Sailor's Olympic heyday commemorated

JARED NICOLL
Last updated 16:00 10/07/2012

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A former Olympic athlete was awarded a commemorative pin at a fundraising dinner for two young sailors in Picton.

Steve Talbot, a travelling reserve on the New Zealand Olympic sailing team at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games, was presented with a golden commemorative pin at Le Cafe on June 4 for taking part in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

The pins are awarded by the New Zealand Olympic Association to Kiwi athletes who have registered at an Olympic village since 1908, and more than 900 out of a total of 1123 have been given so far.

The presentation was part of a fundraising evening which raised about $3000 towards the $35,000 Taylor Burn and Oscar Rorvik need to travel to the 420 World Sailing Championships in Austria on July 27.

The pair also hope to compete in the European junior championships in Italy shortly after.

Mr Talbot said he was flattered to receive the award from his former Chef de Mission and Yachting NZ board member Ralph Roberts.

He was happy to make the trip from Nelson to coincide the presentation with the fundraiser.

"I'm very glad to be here, it's taken them about two years to track me down because I've been overseas," the boat-builder said.

For New Zealand Olympic sailors, 1984 was a proud and successful year.

Boardsailor Bruce Kendall won a bronze medal, sailor Russell Coutts won a gold in the finn class and yachtsmen Rex Sellers and Chris Timms also won gold.

"It was a great year for all of us and the whole experience was just phenomenal.

"We were immensely popular in LA because it was around the height of New Zealand's anti-nuclear movement and it was a real fad over there.

"It was a young person's place, I was 22 and absolutely loved it, I think we all did."

Times had changed and people's attitudes towards sailing had become increasingly commercial in the past 25 years.

"It might have been the last of the fun Olympics, these days it's all professionals, but back then it was gifted amateurs having a good time – we saw the world.

"I don't think I had a winter for five or six years during that time in my life. It was six months sailing in the southern hemisphere and another six in the north."

Mr Roberts said it was a pleasure to be able to present Mr Talbot with the golden pin and emphasised that "once an Olympian always an Olympian".

"There's probably going to be another 200 of these added to the list by the end of the year."

The 2012 London Olympic Games will run from July 27 to August 12.

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- The Marlborough Express

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