Warren Cole rowed at two Olympics, for a gold medal and a sixth placing. He was one of the strongmen of the golden era of New Zealand rowing that stretched from 1967 into the mid-1970s.
Cole was living in Whakatane when he was chosen as a member of the coxed four for the 1968 Olympic team.
Like the rest of the four, Cole would have liked a spot in the New Zealand eight for Mexico City.
But after a few weeks in camp at Kerrs Reach, Christchurch, the four realised they had a special chemistry. In coach Rusty Robertson’s words: “When they got together, they were they funniest-looking crew you’d ever seen.” This dark horse status was to work to their advantage.
The eight, so impressive in the build-up to the Olympics and in the early rounds, crumbled late in the final and came fourth. The New Zealand oarsmen finished in a state of distress, mainly because of the thinner altitude at Mexico City.
However the four – stroke Dick Joyce, Dudley Storey, Ross Collinge and Cole, plus cox Simon Dickie - never put a foot wrong, winning their heat and semi-final, though not in the fastest times. In the final they pushed their bow ahead at 300m and continued to attack, winning by nearly three seconds, from East Germany and Switzerland. That was the last time they raced together – three races, three victories, and the gold medal.
Cole was a member of the New Zealand eight that finished third at the 1970 world championships at St Catharines, Canada.
He was in the coxed four – along with John Clark, Peter Lindsay, Dave Lindstrom and Chris Nilsson - that finished sixth in the 1972 Munich Olympic final.
Cole also won a collection of national titles. In the eights he was in the Whakatane team that won in 1970 and 71, and in 1973 won another eights title, with Waikato. He won fours titles with Whakatane in 1970 and 71 and formed a tremendous coxless pair with Wybo Veldman, winning national titles for Whakatane every year from 1968-72.
Cole, an independently-minded individual, has for many years been in the same line of business, initially working for the National Dairy Association in the sales and marketing section.
Then, living in Hamilton, he owned a company dealing in dairy equipment.
Cole’s 1968 Olympic coxed four that won the gold medal was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.