Olympians help swell fundraiser

02:29, Jan 25 2013
Joseph Sullivan
Sporting royalty: Olympic Games medal winners Sarah Walker, Joseph Sullivan, centre, and Simon van Velthooven, honoured for their London success in Grovetown, Marlborough last night

Nearly 300 people packed the new Rangitane Cultural Centre in Grovetown last night to enjoy a very rare, high quality Marlborough sporting occasion.

London Olympic Games medal winners Joseph Sullivan, Sarah Walker and Simon van Velthooven were guests of honour at the Wairau Rowing Club's Gold, Silver, Bronze fundraiser.

Master of ceremonies Mike McManaway did the initial introductions and welcome, followed by a further welcome from Rowing New Zealand board chairman and Wairau president Ivan Sutherland.

Nearly 300 people packed the new Rangitane Cultural Centre

Marlborough Express reporter John Alexander conducted a question and answer session on stage with the three champion athletes, focusing more on their personal lives, after each had given insights of their Olympic experiences.

Preceding their appearance on stage were clips of their medal-winning performances, van Velthooven's bronze in the keirin, Walker's silver in BMX and Sullivan's gold in the double scull with Nathan Cohen.

Sullivan is of course the pride of Picton and a life member of the Picton Rowing Club.


But van Velthooven also has strong Marlborough links, his grandparents Wim and Riet are residents in the province, along with uncles, aunties and cousins. His father Paul rowed for the Wairau Rowing Club.

Walker too is a regular visitor to Blenheim with her partner, former New Zealand rowing rep Ian Seymour rowing for Wairau.

Sullivan is back in fulltime training with the New Zealand summer squad at Lake Karapiro but next month he's taking on a sporting challenge with a much different focus, the one-day solo section of the annual Coast to Coast multisport race.

A silent auction by Harcourtsn Darryl Harper, with various products and services up for grabs including hosting one of the Olympians for morning tea today, helped boost the Wairau Rowing club's coffers.

Its officials were delighted with the full house turnout, the proceeds from the evening's entertainment going towards new boats for club and Marlborough Girls' College crews.

The Marlborough Express