Skip to Content

Triple Olympic medallist, Barbara Kendall honoured at a NZ Olympic Committee function

Triple Olympic medallist, Barbara Kendall was one of six women honoured at a NZ Olympic Committee function on Thursday night at the Heritage Hotel. The six women were all Gold medalists at Olympic Games, starting with Yvette Williams (1952, Long Jump), Barbara Kendall (1992, Windsurfer), Sarah Ulmer (2004, Track Cycling), Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell (2004 and 2008, Rowing) and Valerie Vili (2008, Shot Put).

Each addressed the dinner guests for about 20 minutes in an interview situation which recalled both their Olympic wins, but also set the context of that win in the training approach of their time, and how they became involved in their sport.

Barbara Kendall is the only New Zealand woman to have competed in five Olympics, winning Gold, Silver and Bronze medals and placing 5th and 6th in the other two regattas.

She recalled how she and her sister, Wendy, would team race against the boys in the early days to win the Auckland Starling Championships, with Wendy placing second. Her first world championships was in Scotland in 1984, at the age if 16 years old, while still at school. When she returned to school, because she was competing in a sport, sailing, that wasn't recognised as a sport, by her school, she had to do detentions to make up for the time she had missed! Her woes were compounded by having to sit University Entrance, because of the time away - and she left school at the end of that year.

In 1992, at her first Olympics, Kendall said she was fairly oblivious to the the Olympic atmosphere, but stuck to thinking about the series on a race by race basis, rather than the outcome. She won New Zealand's only Gold medal of those Olympics, but was one of four yachting medals won by New Zealanders at that regatta. Brother Bruce, a Gold and Bronze medalist from 1988 and 1984, just missed a silver or bronze medal through failure of an organiser supplied fin, later shown to have only six of the required 25 laminations - and was refused redress by the International Jury.

'It was the challenge of going back and doing it again that kept me going back for more Olympics,' Kendall said after being reminded that many having achieved a Gold medal most just give it away. 'Windsurfing for me was a sport that I was incredibly passionate about. It wasn't just a job. It ticked all the boxes of being soul-filling. It gave gave me the freedom to go out on the ocean and just blast away - sun shining and it gave the ultimate freedom of being able to clear your head and get away from the chaos around you. For me it was just the most amazing sport.'

'It was an amazing journey and learning experience,' she added.

However since the Beijing Olympics, Kendall said she had been of a windsurfer, just once and didn't miss the sport. 'It took me 24 years to get over it. But Beijing was very hard and it was like banging your head against a wall. And the love of it was gone.'

'It was so nice to be able to retire when you are on top of the sport and not forced into it by injury,' she added.

Since 'retiring' Barbara Kendall is now heavily involved in International Olympic Committee and related activities, including Athletes Commissions, work which takes her about 90 days per year.

Full article with photos

| DeepFried.TV - forums - news | - webcams - winds | wiNZurf - locations - archive |