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Blazing a path for sportswomen

Tinks Pottinger on her mount Good Fun clear a fence during the showjumping section in the three-day event at Puhinui Reserve in 1997. PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES

After the review of Wairarapa sports champions of the decades on June 15, CHRIS COGDALE takes a look at some of Wairarapa’s outstanding sportswomen.

Tinks Pottinger

A bronze medallist at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and unlucky not to win the 1986 Three-Day Eventing world championships, Tinks Pottinger would be first on my list.

Pottinger and her horse, Volunteer, led the world eventing championships at Gawler, South Australia, after the cross-country, only for Volunteer to be vetted out at the final trot-up before the decisive showjumping phase.

It not only cost Pottinger victory, but also denied New Zealand the gold medal in the teams’ championship.

England’s Ginny Leng won the individual gold, and graciously put the medal round Pottinger’s neck at the after-party do.

Pottinger was then part of the bronze medal-winning team at the Seoul Olympic games. She was also fifth in the individual competition, only 3.8 points behind the bronze medallist, Virginia Holgate,
of Britain.

Marlene Macdonald, right, competing at 1972 world roller skating championships in Masterton. PHOTO/FILE

Marlene Macdonald

The first winner of the Wairarapa Sports Personality of the Year held in 1969, Marlene Macdonald was a world champion and multi-national champion rollerskater.

Macdonald headed off then All Black captain Brian Lochore to win the public poll for the inaugural ‘Wairarapa Sportsman of the Year’ award.

As a 17-year-old, Macdonald overcame severe abrasions to her legs to win the 500m title at the world championships in Vicenzia, Italy, in 1968.

On her return to Masterton, Macdonald was greeted by a crowd of several hundred people outside the Chief Post Office and honoured by then mayor Norm Tankersley.

The significance of Macdonald’s achievement was best summed up in the Wairarapa Times-Age editorial on September 17, 1968.

“Marlene Macdonald’s great win is best illustrated by the fact that no more than a dozen New Zealanders in this century have won gold medals in international sports competitions, and even more significantly she is the first Wairarapa resident to win a world title in sport.”

Macdonald married fellow international skater, Gerry Glover, and went on to win numerous national titles. She competed in the 1972 skating world championships in Masterton.


Penny Hunt

Penny Hunt [nee Haworth] represented New Zealand at one Olympic Games and three Commonwealth Games.

A member of Athletics Masterton, Hunt won several national titles in the 100m, 200m, and 400m.

At the 1972 Munich Olympics, she ran a personal best of 52.66 seconds to make the quarterfinals of the 400m.

Hunt competed in the 100m and 200m at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, finishing eighth in the 200m final.

At the 1974 Christchurch games, she was seventh in the 400m and was part of the 4x400m relay team who were fifth.

She went on to compete at the 1978 Edmonton Commonwealth Games, with a best result of fourth as part of the 4x100m relay team.

Joanne Duffy


A blind skier from Eketahuna, Joanne Duffy won a gold and a bronze medal at the 1994 Winter Paralympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

Duffy won the downhill in the B1-2 category in a time of one minute and 28.58 seconds, more than nine seconds clear of the Spanish silver medallist.

She backed that up with a bronze in the Super G.

Her time of 1:27.74 was nine seconds behind the Austrian winner.

Duffy also finished fifth in the giant slalom. She failed to finish in the slalom.

Liduina Melchers

As a 16-year-old, Liduina Melchers represented New Zealand at the 1973 world cross-country championships in Belgium.

A member of Masterton Harriers, Melchers was part of a New Zealand contingent that included Anne Garrett [Audain], Heather Thompson, and Rod Dixon.

The women’s team finished fourth and Melchers was 44th individual.

The following year, Melchers ran the Rotorua Marathon, and went on to win the race in 1975 and 1977.

According to Athletics and Cycling Masterton website, another of the club’s members, Irene Miller, also represented New Zealand at the world cross-country championships in the 1970s.

Kallista Field

Kallista Field was the first Kiwi to compete in Olympics dressage in 2000. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

Kallista Field became the first Kiwi to compete at the Olympic Games in dressage.

The 22-year old from Pahiatua and her 14-year-old horse, Waikare, competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, finishing 18th overall.

Before the games, Field said a mark of 66 per cent was her goal.

After a sold first round score of 66.44 per cent, she finished with a final score of 68.04 per cent.

Catriona McLeod

Catriona McLeod [now Williams] was one of New Zealand’s leading equestrians throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. That was until a fall during an event in 2002 left her a C6-7 tetraplegic.

Before that, McLeod competed at prestigious jumping events at Badminton, Burghley, and Saumur, finishing 15th in all three. She had also contested the 1999 World Cup showjumping final in Sweden.

Other Contenders

There are many other contenders, such as Wendi Henderson, Nicky Smith, and Michelle Keinzley, who were all members of the successful Wairarapa United women’s football team of the late 1990s and early 2000s and went on to represent New Zealand.

Others include Elizabeth Perry, who represented New Zealand in cricket and hockey, Black Ferns Rebecca Mahoney and Shakira Baker, and the other female winners of the Wairarapa Sports Personality of the Year – disabled athlete Irene Hislop [1982], runner Diane Taylor [1983], powerlifter Sue Vaughan [1989] and promising triathlete Tanya Lundie [1994], whose sporting career ended when she was left on the side of the road north of Greytown in a truck hit-and-run.

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