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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 6 (September 1, 1936)

Sport in General

Sport in General.

The Australian Rugby representative team will be touring New Zealand during this season and cementing still stronger the bonds of friendship that has long existed in sport between the two countries. The team includes a page 67 sprinkling of New Zealanders, including Tom Pauling, a son of a former New Zealand representative. The younger edition was one of New South Wales’ best junior field event athletes.

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When the Canadian schoolboy athletes competed in New Zealand after a successful meeting in Melbourne, few New Zealanders realised that no less than three members of the team would be representing Canada at the Olympic Games two years later. But, so it proved. Sammy Richardson, the Negro athlete who celebrated his sixteenth birthday in Wellington—and he was already the British Empire Champion broad jumper—John Loaring, hurdler, and Howard McPhee, sprinter, all wore the Maple Leaf in Berlin, and all performed well. Loaring filled second place in the 400 metres hurdles and sixth place in the 400 metres flat, while Richardson qualified for the final of the broad jump. McPhee went out in the semi-finals of the 100 metres sprints.

Canada has long shown great interest in the welfare of the schoolboy athletes, and has in Dr. Lamb, who managed the team to New Zealand, an outstanding figure in the amateur athletic world.

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It is given to few sporting combinations to go through a fairly long tour without scoring a single success and still attract good attendances. Such is the record that fell to the lot of the Fijian Women's hockey team which has just concluded a tour of New Zealand. The Test Match played against New Zealand at Wellington in August saw the visitors defeated by four goals to nil after a determined game, and a game that showed the visiting team to be comprised of a band of players worthy of high praise. The wet weather experienced by the players, who could not adapt themselves to the strange conditions, was in no small manner responsible for the succession of defeats chalked up against them, but with the spirit of good sportsmanship pre-eminent, they played each game as it should be played—and earned the admiration of all New Zealanders. The world is the better for possessing good losers; it is easy to be a good winner!

* * *

New Zealand is fast becoming the Mecca for Australian boxers, and each steamer from across the Tasman seems to bring one or more additions to the ranks of the active glovesters. Pleasing, too, is the indication that New Zealand sportsmen are beginning to show renewed interest in the doings of the New Zealand boxers who have had a lean time for the past five or six years. Joe Hall, one of the best feather-weights in Australia, could not do better than share the decision with New Zealand's own star, Billy Aitken, and although few expected the local product to last out the journey, the return bout is expected to set a new indoor gate record for the past five or six years. Boxing, as a box-office attraction, has one great advantage over wrestling—it is possible for “local champions” to be pitted against visiting boxers in almost every district in the land. New Zealand has but few wrestlers capable of extending visiting matmen; its boxers are not to be passed over with scorn.

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It has been said that the first thing a group of Australians will do on settling in a strange country is to form a racing club; New Zealanders, it is claimed, will form a Rugby football club. Sport seems to be bred into the Wood of New Zealanders and Australians, and the natural instinct undoubtedly leads in the direction of endeavouring to excel on the performances of the teacher. This has never been better demonstrated than in tbe sport of wrestling. “Lofty” Blomfield, who learned the rudiments of wrestling in Auckland, and in turn received valuable experience under the eye of Tom Lurich and Dan Koloff, has “invented” the most destructive hold seen in wrestling this season. He has won many matches with his specialty, which may yet win for him the much-publicised British Empire wrestling title. Another New Zealander to “invent” a match-winning hold is Dick Godfrey, a Wellington policeman, whose effort has been characterised by visiting American wrestlers as something right out of the ordinary. Show a New Zea'ander a hold or two. and lie will try to do one better! Koolman, one of the cleverest wrestlers seen in these Islands, has a real match winning hold —the “supless.” This was first used by a New Zealander who resided at Feilding and later travelled to Europe where the hold was used with great success by European wrestlers.

* * *

The long-distance cycle races are due to start in New Zealand in the next few weeks. But what a contrast the Palmerston North to Wellington race is now to what it was when it was first held ten years ago! Then the roads were gravel ones and not bitumenised. The hills were sometimes sticky masses of clay and the 102 miles course was 102 miles in length, Improyed roading conditions and the straightening out of winding roads has made the race faster, but no easier. The “plugger” did have a chance in 1926, but 1936 is the day of speed all the way. To win a race from Palmerston North to Wellington, it has been said that a “cyclist must start off at top speed and gradually increase the pace!” The speed at which cyclists travel during this race would amaze the average reader. The writer has left Palmerston North in a car at the same time as the scratch bunch—about one hour after the limit or “weaker” riders have started—and although the speedometer has shown up to fifty miles per hour, has not caught the limit men until the Paekakariki Hill has been reached, about 70 miles away.