93-year-old rower still keep­ing up pace

Franklin County News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JOHN BOYN­TON

Cliff Tay­lor is in a field all of his own.

The 93-year-old Pukekohe res­i­dent won three gold medals in in­door row­ing at the 2017 New Zealand Mas­ters Games in Whanganui last month.

He was the only com­peti­tor in the 90-year-old plus cat­e­gory com­pet­ing in the heavy­weight men 500, 1000 and 2000 me­tre events.

Since it started in 1989, the New Zealand Mas­ters Games has grown from 1500 en­trants com­pet­ing across 29 sports to more than 8,000 en­trants across 67 sports.

The range of sports in­cludes archery, ath­let­ics, bas­ket­ball, cricket, ten­nis, dance, dog han­dling, swim­ming, waka ama and cy­cling.

Tay­lor first com­peted at the Mas­ters Games in 2006 and has pre­vi­ously picked up gold medals in walk­ing and the 100 me­tre sprint.

‘‘When you get up to the 85-90 age bracket your strength is sadly gone,’’ he said.

Tay­lor had an in­jury scare a few weeks prior to the event when he fell over get­ting out of the row­ing ma­chine.

He spent two days in hospi­tal, but quickly re­sumed train­ing row­ing five days a week at Coun­ties Fit­ness.

‘‘I was able to keep train­ing enough us­ing my arms but I lost the use of my legs for the race - they were too sore.’’

Tay­lor, who rep­re­sented New Zealand at the Em­pire Games in 1950, said row­ing en­abled him to par­tic­i­pate in sport rel­a­tively pain free.

‘‘I can’t put weight on my legs that starts to hurt - but row­ing you’re just sit­ting there.’’

Over the years Tay­lor has had mul­ti­ple hip surg­eries.

He said he’d been ad­vised row­ing wasn’t the best for his hips.

‘‘Some peo­ple are against it if you have a hip op­er­a­tion, but I’ve had three - it’s never wor­ried me.’’

Tay­lor said he was thank­ful to his spon­sors for fund­ing his trip to the mas­ters.

He even drove him­self to and from Wan­ganui.

‘‘I’ve still got all my fac­ul­ties, but I don’t quite re­mem­ber names.’’

Al­though the com­pe­ti­tion was ‘‘hard bloody yakka’’ Tay­lor said if he could con­tinue to fund his travel he’d keep at­tend­ing the Mas­ters Games.

‘‘I don’t think I want to row when I’m 100, but row­ing is the only sport I can do.’’

JOHN BOYN­TON/FAIR­FAX NZ

Cliff Tay­lor won three gold medals at the 2017 New Zealand Mas­ters Games in Wan­ganui.

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