93-year-old rower still keeping up pace
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.’’
Cliff Taylor won three gold medals at the 2017 New Zealand Masters Games in Wanganui.