Best friends, record break­ers re­unite

Matamata Chronicle - - What’s On - REXINE HAWES

It has taken al­most 40 years for a track record set by four Mata­mata Col­lege stu­dents to be bro­ken at the New Zealand Sec­ondary Schools Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships.

In 1980, the col­lege’s track team of Wendy Wil­liamson nee Hed­ley, Raewyn Coun­sell nee Ed­die, Su­san Deed nee Buchanan and El­iz­a­beth Kalma nee Dearlove set the 4x100m re­lay record which they held un­til De­cem­ber 2016 when it was bro­ken by a frac­tion of a sec­ond.

The record-set­ting 1979-82 Mata­mata Col­lege re­lay team was coached by War­wick Fen­ton. Re­cently he re­united with his cham­pion re­lay team, a group he de­scribed as a force on the track.

Fen­ton said he has never had a re­lay team quite like the one he coached all those years ago.

‘‘As a team, no one could touch them,’’ he said.

Mata­mata Col­lege orig­i­nally held the New Zealand Sec­ondary Schools re­lay record of 50.40, which in the first heat of the 1980 champs was beaten by Welling­ton Girls’ Col­lege at 50:16s.

In the sec­ond heat St Cuth­berts low­ered it to 50:08s, how­ever the reign­ing champs took the record back in the third heat to 49.85.

Thirty-seven years on and St Hilda’s Col­le­giate now has the record, 49.79, recorded at the New Zealand Sec­ondary Schools Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships on De­cem­ber 2.

At the 1980 champs, Dearlove broke the record of 25.0s, to 24.5s in the 200m sprint. She also won the Pan Pa­cific School’s 200m sprint, only .07s shy of qual­i­fy­ing for the Com­mon­wealth Games, at just 15 years old.

‘‘She (El­iz­a­beth) is and re­mains the best womens sprinter I have ever seen,’’ said Fen­ton.

‘‘(In the re­lay race) she was well clear and if there was an­other team push­ing her then the team prob­a­bly would have set the record in the 48+ sec­onds range, which would have pos­si­bly never been beaten in 100 years.’’

The re­u­nion in Mata­mata was the first time the team and Fen­ton had met since 1982.

The bond that re­mains be­tween them is ev­i­dent and once photo al­bums came out and mem­o­ries started flow­ing, it was very dif­fi­cult to call the in­ter­view to or­der.

It is clear these girls loved ath­let­ics, as Raewyn ex­plained.

‘‘We trained at lunchtime ev­ery­day, we were al­ways to­gether,’’ she said.

‘‘We en­joyed go­ing to train­ing, it was our so­cial event.’’

She says they prac­tised ba­ton changes ev­ery day and it was that, their speed, plus the ca­ma­raderie that helped smash the record.

‘‘Our whole aim was to beat that record. We were ec­static, we were on top of the world.’’

The ladies are hop­ing to re­unite once again at the 2018 Mata­mata Col­lege Re­u­nion, and Fen­ton is hop­ing the whole ath­let­ics team will be there too.

REXINE HAWES

The 1979-1982 Mata­mata Col­lege re­lay team. They held the na­tional 4x100m re­lay record un­til De­cem­ber 6. Wendy Hed­ley, El­iz­a­beth Dearlove, Su­san Buchanan, coach War­wick Fen­ton and Raewyn Ed­die re­united re­cently.

SUP­PLIED

The re­lay team in 1980. Back row is Raewyn Eddy and El­iz­a­beth Dearlove and in the front, Su­san Buchanan and Wendy Hed­ley.

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