Possessing an indomitable spirit and never-say-die attitude Marise Chamberlain remains a trailblazing figure in the history of Kiwi women’s athletics. During a lengthy career she bettered or equalled eight world records/world best time from the 400m to the mile, she became her country’s first and still only female Olympic track medallist – her success paving the way for generations of female athletes to follow.
Born and raised the second eldest of four children in the Christchurch suburb of South Brighton in 1935, Marise showed her athletic potential from a young age. A primary school sprint champion she secured her first Canterbury title over 220yd aged 15. She also competed for a year for the Crichton Cobbers club but quit athletics aged 16.
Nonetheless, three weeks before her 18th birthday, she had a re-think after a work colleague, whom Marise had previously beaten on the running track, started training with Technical Athletic Club.
“I thought, ...