Quiet rowing great to be honoured at awards
Dick Joyce is one of New Zealand’s greatest Olympians but it’s a good bet most people in Porirua know little about him.
The former Hutt Valley Rowing Club member, who now lives in Porirua, is one of only nine New Zealanders to have won two Olympic gold medals. In 1968 he and another Hutt Valley rower, Ross Collinge, were in a gold medal-winning coxed four at the Mexico Games.
Four years later, he earned sporting immortality by being part of the winning eight at the Munich Olympics.
Along with the 1500 and 100 metre races in athletics, the rowing eight is considered a glamour Olympic event.
Television coverage of Joyce and the other rowers getting their gold medal in Germany sits beside David Kirk holding the 1987 Rugby World Cup and John Walker striding to Olympic glory as our most cherished sporting images.
So how is it that Joyce has slipped under the radar, despite representing Hutt Valley and running a successful business in Seaview for nearly 30 years?
He told us that although he is immensely proud of his two gold medals he has never sought publicity and is happy to have a low profile.
With the 40th anniversary of the eights’ win rapidly approaching, that is about to change.
Hutt City Sports Awards chairman Ken Laban says plans for the 2012 awards night on May 3 include honouring Joyce and Collinge, as well as bowler Peter Horne, who won gold at the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul.
Joyce achieved success with the Hutt Valley club, which broke away from Petone Rowing Club.
Because he was not part of the better known Petone club, his link to the Hutt has largely been overlooked.
Wellington has always regarded him as a Hutt Valley person and he says that as time has passed, people remember the image of the eight getting their medals but have forgotten the names.
His record as a rower has to be one of the best of any elite sportsman this country has produced.
‘‘I pulled on the New Zealand singlet 52 times and in that time I got a third place three times, second place three times and the rest I won. When you put it that way, it is a pretty impressive record.’’
The 1968 four and 1972 eight were inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and the eight won two New Zealand Sportsman of the Year awards.
Olympic great: Dick Joyce won two Olympic golds representing New Zealand in rowing. He is wearing the blazer he wore in 1972 as part of the winning eight.