1980’s THE SADNESS OF AN OLYMPIC BOYCOTT, WE COME HOME FROM LOS ANGELES WITH 8 OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALS
New Zealand boycotted the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games, the only time the country has taken part in an Olympic boycott. Eventually only four New Zealanders competed in Moscow, of an originally selected team of 99. 34 were never selected to compete at another Olympic Games and the sense of pain and loss experienced by these athletes cannot be underestimated.
While most of the team were not allowed to compete, the four New Zealanders that defied government pressure to represent New Zealand did not march behind the national flag during the Opening Ceremony. Instead they chose the silver fern as a symbol of what it meant over the views of the government and authorities of the time.
The flag was black with the silver fern and the famous five Olympic rings and it lives on today as the symbol of the New Zealand Team logo.
Brian Newth (OLY#390) competed in the modern pentathlon at the 1980 Olympic Games, the only person to have represented New Zealand in that event at an Olympic Games.
Sir Russell Coutts (OLY#421) won sailings first individual medal (gold) in the Finn class.
Archer Neroli Fairhall (OLY#432) captured world headlines at Los Angeles in 1984 when she became the first disabled athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. She had been selected for the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, but was denied the opportunity to compete because of the boycott that year.
New Zealand won four canoeing gold medals in 1984, its first medal successes in that sport.
Ian Ferguson (OLY#346) won three canoeing gold medals in 1984, the first New Zealander to win three gold medals at the same Olympic Games.
New Zealand won eight gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, still a record.
Light heavyweight boxer Kevin Barry (OLY#403) was thrown into the centre of a huge controversy at the 1984 Olympic Games when he won a silver medal by beating home favourite Evander Holyfield on a disqualification in their semi-final.
Sir Mark Todd (OLY#514) began his illustrious Olympic career at Los Angeles in 1984 when, riding Charisma, he won the gold medal in the equestrian individual three-day event. Todd had been chosen for the 1980 Olympic Games but had been unable to compete because of the boycott. Eventually Todd competed in eight Olympic teams and won two gold medals and three bronze medals.
The women’s marathon was held at the Olympic Games for the first time in 1984. New Zealand had three entrants, with Lorraine Moller (OLY#476) placing fifth and going on to become a four time Olympian.
Though Aucklander Malcolm Champion (OLY#4) had won a gold medal as part of an Australasian relay team in 1912, New Zealand had never won a men’s swimming medal at the Olympic Games until 1988, when backstroker Paul Kingsman (OLY#457) and butterfly specialist Antony Mosse (OLY#478) both won bronzes.
In 1988 Madonna Harris (OLY#523) became the first New Zealander to compete in both winter and summer Olympic Games. That year she competed in the gruelling 20km cross-country skilling event at the Calgary winter Olympic Games and later contested the cycling road race at the Seoul summer Olympic Games.
Women’s rowing has been on the Olympic programme since 1976. The first New Zealand women to win Olympic medals were Nikki Payne (OLY#570) and Lynley Hannen (OLY#555), who were third in the women’s pair at Seoul in 1988.