Luck throws grandson an Olympic surprise

01:43, Jan 31 2009

It took four weeks for his champion javelin thrower grandfather to make it to the Olympics, but Mark Fairey will get there and back in only six days.

Mr Fairey inadvertently won a Visa and Xero-sponsored competition for a trip to the Beijing Olympics 80 years to the day after his grandfather, Stan Lay, competed in Amsterdam. "I'm absolutely delighted with the win, it came completely out of left field," he said.

"I'd just paid for a transaction with my Visa card and wasn't even aware of the competition. It's a happy coincidence."

The 50-year-old Wellingtonian got a surprise call from Olympic gold-medal triathlete Hamish Carter - who now works for online accounting firm Xero - advising him of his competition win.

Mr Fairey's grandfather competed for New Zealand as a javelin thrower in the seventh modern Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928.

A Taranaki athletics and provincial cricket star, Stan Lay set a national record for the javelin of almost 63 metres in 1929, which remained unbeaten for 27 years. He also set British javelin records and won a gold medal at the Empire Games in 1930 and silver in 1938. He was awarded an MBE in 1987 and in 1990 was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.

Mr Fairey said his grandfather was "fairly low key" about his sporting accomplishments and when he retired after the 1950 Empire Games dedicated his life to family.

He died in 2003, aged 96. Well into his 70s he was often seen helping with training at New Plymouth's athletics park.



The Dominion Post