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Local Sporting Stars Celebrate NZ Olympic Story

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Local Sporting Stars Celebrate NZ Olympic Story

16 June 2009 - Sporting heroes and local dignitaries will gather in Wanganui next week to celebrate 1111 New Zealand Olympians.

The 2008 Olympic Games marked 100 years of New Zealand Olympic history and at Beijing the 1000th Olympian wore the silver fern. This year, the New Zealand Olympic Committee together with the Olympians Club of New Zealand will honour each of these athletes through a series of sixteen functions around New Zealand.

Wanganui's Olympians and supporters, including Montreal 1976 hockey gold medallist Les Wilson, Melbourne 1956 rower Reg Douglas and shooter Bruce McMillan (Munich 1972), will gather on Monday, June 22, at 5.30pm at the Wanganui District Council Chamber. Each of Wanganui's Olympians will be presented with an exclusively designed Olympic pin featuring the rings and fern and the Olympian's unique number. Olympians will also receive a commemorative certificate signed by IOC President Jacques Rogge and the NZOC Secretary General, Barry Maister.

Deputy Mayor Dot McKinnon will host the event which has been organised in partnership with the NZOC, the Olympians Club of NZ, and Sport Wanganui. Wanganui's Olympians are Gary Anderson (cycling Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000), Philippa Baker-Hogan (rowing Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996), Catherine Cheatley (cycling Beijing 1998), Megan Compain (basketball Sydney 2000, Athens 2004), Reg Douglas (rowing Melbourne 1956), Don Gemmell (rowing Melbourne 1956), Bruce McMillan (shooting Munich 1972), Les Wilson (hockey Montreal 1976) and Harvey Wilson (equestrian Montreal 1976, Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992).

New Zealand Olympic Committee Secretary General Barry Maister says honouring our Olympians is timely and important. "In 100 years of Olympic history just 1000 New Zealanders have been able to call themselves an Olympian. These special people have created history and inspired generations of New Zealanders. Sir John Walker, Mahe Drysdale, Philippa Baker-Hogan and others make up the fabric of our society and we're proud to honour them within our communities."

A New Zealand Olympian is an athlete who has been both selected into the New Zealand Olympic Team and has been accredited into the team at the Olympic Games.

The function in Wanganui takes place as around the world communities celebrate Olympic Day on June 23. Olympic Day is a celebration of the Olympic Movement and its values of excellence, friendship and respect. In New Zealand school children have been invited to participate in the Olympic Day Run and a series of lectures about the Olympic Games are being held in Auckland and Wellington. A New Zealand Olympians Wall of Honour will be unveiled in the Olympic Museum Gallery in Wellington.

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