The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 3 (June 1, 1937)
Panorama of the Playground — The British Empire Games
january of next year is going to be a most important month in the history of New Zealand sport for in that month this Dominion will send to Australia one of the biggest sports teams ever to leave these shores.
The British Empire Games—second only in athletic importance to the Olympic Games—will be held in Sydney as part of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the State of New South Wales, and a team in excess of sixty members is expected to represent New Zealand.
Embracing practically every branch of sporting activity, the Empire Games were revived in 1930 when they were allotted to Hamilton (Canada). New Zealand was represented at that gathering by a moderately-sized team and had the distinction of securing two Empire titles. Billy Savidan, the smiling Aucklander, won the six-mile track title in record time, and Stan Lay captured the javelin throwing crown. Remarkable athletes both of them!
Savidan emerged from retirement this season to win the New Zealand three-mile track title for the seventh time, and put up a wonderful performance to register 14 min. 40 sec. And, not to be outdone, Lay came back after an absence from the competitive side of sport to regain his N.Z. javelin title. There is every reason to expect both these men—title-holders in 1930—to carry New Zealand's colours to victory at the Empire Games of 1938.
Swimmers, boxers, track and field men and women, wrestlers, bowlers, rowers and cyclists in New Zealand at the present time have one big incentive to reach their best early next season. The goal is Sydney and the Empire Games!
Whereas in past international competitions our representatives have had the disadvantage of having had to travel half-way round the globe, from one summer to another, they will for a change have the advantage on athletes coming from the Northern Hemisphere. New Zealand athletes— and the term embraces all the branches of sport—will be able to train right up to the time of embarking for Australia and with only a short steamer journey, sufficient to freshen up the most jaded performer, will step ashore at Sydney in condition to do their best at a moment's notice.
Amateur Wrestling in New Zealand.
Few New Zealanders, perhaps, have realised the true merit of the win scored by the New Zealand amateur wrestlers against the pick of Australian wrestlers a few weeks ago.
Wrestling under Olympic conditions —with the exception that the ring was enclosed with ropes which are absent in Olympic contests—our representatives managed to defeat men with more experience and with the added advantage of having had several weeks of training and many bouts as a preliminary “warming-up.”
Although New Zealand has worthy representatives in the heavyweight wrestling ranks with Blomfield and Elliot there are many enthusiasts who hope that some day the trend will sway toward giving the lighter-weighted wrestlers an opportunity of showing their wares in New Zealand. It is claimed, and rightly, too, that better wrestling and more science is displayed by the lighter men and with New Zealand rich in talent among the smaller men a golden opportunity is being lost to allow local products to share with American mat-men the honours of the wrestling season.
New Zealand Polo Team.
A New Zealand polo team has been invited to tour New South Wales early next year. City residents have no conception of the thrills which attend the game of polo. Of course, the screen has shown them the excellent “Sportlights” by Grantland Rice and portrayed the keen interest—and skill —of the late Will Rogers, but for sheer thrills one must see the skilful manoeuvring of the ponies by the daring riders to appreciate the fastest of field sport.page break
Polo is a family game—or was before a golf course became a necessary part of every village or small settlement in New Zealand. As a lad I marvelled at the prowess of the Murphy Bros., well-known Gisborne settlers, who kept a regular horde of polo ponies and later years recalled tales of “polo families” in Hawke's Bay and South Canterbury. It is a game that is once more growing in popularity but one, unfortunately, seldom to be seen by city folk. Just another advantage enjoyed by country residents!
Health and Exercise.
In his efforts to improve the health of the nation, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. W. E. Parry, has embarked on a mission which may not have its true value shown for some years to come. But once awakened to the value of systematic and sane exercise New Zeaalnders will take wholeheartedly to his suggestions.
Opinions may differ as to the best means of developing and retaining physical fitness but there are so many means whereby good may accrue. What must be guarded against is the specialisation which might be attempted.
This is a point noted by Americans and commented on in the report of the Wingate Memorial Foundation which has made the Public Schools of America its principal “fitting up” starting point. Lads with good chest development are not encouraged to take up sport which will still further develop their chests; they are given exercises to strengthen their lower limbs. Likewise lads with good leg development are given special exercises to develop their chests. In other words, the weak points are developed.