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Upper Hutt Leader : December 19th 2012
39 UPPER HUTT LEADER, DECEMBER 19, 2012 SPORT Waddell ticks all the boxes SPORTS TALK JOSEPH ROMANOS Rob Waddell brings impress- ive credentials to his new role as chef de mission of the New Zealand Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams. He is primarily a champion sportsman and I liked how he described his three Olympic experiences, in 1996, 2000 and 2008: a wide-eyed first-timer, a gold medallist and an athlete struggling to meet expectations. Waddell was just 21 when he overcame an irregular heartbeat problem to finish seventh in the single sculls at Atlanta in 1996. By 2000 he was a double world champion. He handled the mantle of favourite superbly to win the gold medal in style in Sydney. After a long absence, he returned to top-class rowing in 2008 and nearly tipped Mahe Drysdale out of the single sculls seat, incredible considering Drysdale was a multiple world champion and Waddell had been away from the sport for so many years. Instead, Waddell and Nathan Cohen formed a rather odd- looking double sculls team and at the Beijing Olympics finished a disappointing fourth. Waddell, previously extremely so obliging, was a trifle stand- offish in 2008, but that was per- haps understandable. He was a prime media target and was under unusual pressure. Generally, he has been a credit to sport. Though he claimed world single sculls titles in 1998 and 1999, he was a very narrow winner of the Halberg Award each time, edging out Barbara Kendall on one occasion and Blyth Tait on the other. Any suggestion of ill-feeling about the vote result was swept away by his impressive acceptance speeches. That should not have been sur- prising. Even back at King's Col- lege Waddell was an accomplished public speaker. Waddell has many other attributes. He is an all-round sportsman who has been a rep rugby player, a black belt in judo and a long- serving grinder for Team New Zealand. He is a bright bloke who earned a bachelor of management studies with honours, majoring in Japanese and marketing. He runs a big family business and has had a successful involve- ment with the Home of Cycling Trust. Waddell has big boots to fill because he follows Dave Currie into the chef de mission role, and Currie was outstanding. (In passing, there has been ridiculous recent comment about Currie not being supportive enough of his athletes, perhaps sparked by bizarre comments shot putter Valerie Adams has made. Such criticism is incorrect -- Currie was tremendous the way he put the athletes first.) Waddell is our 18th chef de mission, and some of them have been mediocre at best. The first, Arthur Porritt, was in charge in 1924, 1928 and 1936 and was excellent. But too often the job was a reward for time served, and the chef de mission seemed to be on some sort of royal tour, and unwilling to get his hands dirty. Peter Miskimmin, Mike Stanley and Kereyn Smith would all have made good chefs de mission, but they have important jobs in sport at present. Champion cyclist Sarah Ulmer would have been brilliant, too, but she is busy with a baby daughter. Waddell is of the same sort of calibre. The New Zealand teams at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics will surely be grateful for his presence. Picture perfect: Totara Park's Zekiel Bullen watches a pitch all the way. Photos: PETER McDONALD Juniors had a ball Steady hand: Barbarians fielder Tomaho Peri gathers the ball to take an opposition Te Aroha batter in second-base action. Totara Park softball was well represented at a Hutt Valley Juniors under-13 tournament held at Avalon Park, Taita on Sunday. The club field teams in each of the three pools, including a mixed boys and girls team which was combined with players from the Hutt City club and played under the Barbarians'' title. Totara Park Softball Club results from Saturday: Under 15, TP Blue 10 v Stokes Valley 7 POD Naaman Tamihana-Boyd, TP Gold 4 v Wainui 11 POD Nathan Cameron; Under 13, TP Blue 7 v TP Gold 10 POD Sam Wilkes (Gold); under 11, TP Blue4vTeAroha Boys 6 POD Thomas Moore, TP Gold 7 v Marist Maroon 0; under 9, TP Blue 19 v Te Aroha Girls 27 POD Craig Te Brake, TP Gold 17 v Wainui Lions 25 POD Tui Smiler; under 7, TP Gold v Naenae POD Bella Johnson- Walker.
December 12th 2012
December 26th 2012