Kiwi athletes on special London 'Tube' map

MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 20:14 03/04/2012

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Four New Zealand Olympic gold medal winners are among 361 athletes from around the world who have had stations named after them on a Olympic Legends version of the London Underground map.

They include the great Peter Snell, winner of the 800m gold medal at Rome in 1960, and both the 800m and 1500m golds at Tokyo four years later.

With that golden time fading into history, unlikely ever to be repeated, Snell was voted New Zealand Athlete of the Century in 2000. So no arguments about his choice for the map, which was drawn up in Britain by sports journalist Alex Tricket and sports historian David Brooks.

Snell is the name on the map for the station otherwise known as Acton Town.

Another of the four New Zealanders is Mark Todd, who takes the place of the Kilburn High Road station. Todd's two equestrian Olympic golds on Charisma - at Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988 - provided his compatriots with great moments of almost unwatchable tension.

Russell Square station keeps the first part of its name, becoming Russell Coutts in the new map.

In a great feat of willpower, the brilliant sailor contested his last race in the yachting finn class at Los Angeles in 1984 in agony after developing painful boils on his backside. His fifth in that final race earned him enough points to win the gold medal in a tight contest.

To the wider world Coutts rise to prominence was probably more closely linked to his stunning dominance of the America's Cup that followed his Olympic triumph. He was the skipper of Black Magic when it won the cup in 1995, then defended it in 2000, before switching to the Alinghi team which he led to triumph in 2003.

The fourth New Zealander on the Underground map is Barbara Kendall - replacing Caledonian Road - whose gold at Barcelona in 1992 was this country's only gold of those games. It was also the first Olympic gold won by  a New Zealand woman since Yvette Williams 40 years earlier.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee website notes Kendall is one of only three competitors from this country to have won medals at three separate Olympics, with silver in Atlanta in 1996 and bronze in Sydney in 2000. Her brother Bruce won boardsailing gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Anyone who wins an Olympic event deserves all the acclaim they get, and New Zealand sports fans might wonder why some of our other Olympians failed to get a station.

Designers Trickett and Brooks acknowledge ideas such as their map always divide opinion, but they are happy to defend all their choices.

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Okay then, what about a station for kayaker Ian Ferguson who won four golds, or twins Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell who won two rowing golds?

Among the great international athletes after which stations have been named, speedster Usain Bolt gets London Victoria, while the two stations to the 2012 Olympic venues at Stratford have been named after boxer Cassius Clay, who changed his name to Muhammad Ali, and swimmer Michael Phelps.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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