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Golden upgrade

Deborah Hambly competing in the 45-plus 200m butterfly at last year’s World Masters Games in Auckland. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Hambly gets gold, silver medals after games rival fails dope test

Masters Games


A rival’s disqualification for a positive doping test has meant gold for Masterton woman Deborah Hambly, who competed in April last year at the World Masters Games, held in Auckland.

It’s taken more than a year, but Hambly was on Monday awarded her gold and silver medals by Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson.

Hambly had originally taken out silver in the women’s 45-plus 200m butterfly, with a time of three minutes, six seconds, and a bronze in the 100m butterfly, in one minute, 21 seconds.

But these were upgraded to gold and silver medals respectively when it was discovered in August that the woman ahead of her in both races, a female doctor from Australia, had failed her
doping test.

World Masters Games swimmer Deborah Hambly being presented with her medals by Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson. PHOTO/GIANINA SCHWANECKE

A lengthy appeals process, and the time taken for the medals to be returned, meant Hambly did not receive her gold medal until this week, when it arrived in the mail.

“It had a Customs declaration – one gold medal,” she said.

The medal upgrades cap off a good season for Hambly, who also won a games bronze in the ocean swim series in the 45-49 age group.

“I’m really happy with how I did at the World Games. All I ever wanted to do was to score one medal.

“The ocean swim was a bonus.”

This was Hambly’s first World Masters Games event and her first gold medal win.

“It’s difficult to know what your competition is going to be because you never know who will show up.

“You’re racing against the top New Zealanders.

“We were all within a minute of each other.”

When Hambly found out the woman who was originally fourth in the 100m butterfly was fellow New Zealander Deborah Rigg, of Tauranga, she arranged a special delivery of the bronze medal.

“I thought what would it have been like to have not gotten any medals and missed the presentation, so I made it nice for her.”

Originally from the Canadian province of Quebec, Hambly began swimming competitively at the age of 19 before moving to New Zealand nearly 13 years ago.

Competing in the World Masters Games also allowed her to apply for early citizenship.

Hambly is a busy bee — she trained as a PE teacher, but now teaches beekeeping at Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre.

She trains year round, three times a week increasing to five or six in the weeks before a competition.

She begins by building her endurance, swimming up to 40 lengths of butterfly at a time, before going back to sprints.

Swimming is a life-long passion and means much more to her than the medals she wins.

To other aspiring swimmers she said, “try to take positives from the things that are going well”.

Her next challenge will be another ocean swim series later this year.

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