Four HB games heroes at dinner
By Francis Stevens
Four Hawke’s Bay track and field achievers of yesteryear attended a ‘Chariots of Fire’ dinner for past and present Commonwealth Games medallists in Auckland last night.
Rona McCarthy, Cleone Rivett-Carnac, Mike O’Rourke and Sylvia Potts were among 108 New Zealand medal winners at the Athletics New Zealand organised event.
Mrs McCarthy (nee Tong) won a bronze medal in the 80m sprint hurdles at the 1938 Sydney British Empire Games.
Mrs Rivett-Carnac took javelin bronze at the Auckland Empire Games in 1950 and Mr O’Rourke a javelin silver at the 1978 Edmonton games and gold in the same event at the 1982 Brisbane games.
Mrs Potts came within in metres of a 1500m gold at Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in 1970 but tripped before she crossed the finish line.
Beatrice Faumuina and Craig Barrett were among the big names back from Kuala Lumpur at the dinner, however, Hawke’s Bay’s marathon runner Phil Costley and 1500m athlete Hamish Christensen were recuperating and did not attend.
Mrs McCarthy and Mrs Rivett-Carnac were yesterday looking forward to catching up with old team mates and hearing recent games success stories.
“There will be a few big names there,” Mrs McCarthy said
“I am looking forward to meeting Beatrice Faumuina. I have been watching the games on TV and I have been impressed by how well the New Zealand team has done,” she said.
The pair said the Commonwealth competition had changed considerably since their day.
“Back then competition was more even,” Mrs McCarthy said.
“Australia were very impressive this year, but when I went to the games they were nowhere near that far ahead of every other country,” she said.
When Mrs McCarthy arrived back in Hastings with her medal there was no fuss.
“In those days it was a rarity to be selected to a New Zealand team and represent the country overseas. When I arrived home there was no civic reception or anything like that.”
The event was organised by Auckland Mayoress Colleen Mills, president of Athletics New Zealand.
Photo caption – Cleone Rivett-Carnac, left, and Rona McCarthy before they left for Auckland yesterday.