News & Updates

14 August 2020 • High Performance

New Zealand celebrates 100 years of Olympics

New Zealand's Valerie Adams gestures in the Women's Shot Put Final during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 12, 2016. / AFP / Johannes EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

The New Zealand Olympic Team this month celebrates its centenary and 100 years of the silver fern at Olympic Games.

It was in Antwerp in 1920 on 14 August that the first New Zealand Team marched into an Olympic Opening Ceremony as an independent nation, competing in black with a silver fern.

Today the New Zealand Team to Olympic Games is made up of 1,387 Olympians, spanning 25 Summer Olympic Games, 16 Winter Olympic Games and 123 Olympic medals. Our Olympic teams have shaped our nation’s history, inspired young New Zealanders and helped create international reputation for integrity and excellence.

The New Zealand Team today is also made up of generations of Commonwealth Games and, more recently, Pacific Games athletes.

New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) CEO Kereyn Smith says the 100-year anniversary is an appropriate occasion to look back and reflect on the impact of the New Zealand Team at Olympic Games.

“From Jack Lovelock winning our first Olympic athletics gold in 1936, to Dame Yvette Williams becoming our first woman to win Olympic gold, Sir Peter Snell’s double in Tokyo in 1964 and teenagers Zoi Sadowski-Synnott and Nico Porteous winning bronze within hours of each other in PyeongChang in 2018, there have been countless inspiring moments,” Smith says.

“Today New Zealanders tell us the New Zealand Team inspires excellence and our athletes are role models for young New Zealanders, visiting tens of thousands of school children each year. Athletes are proud to be representing our nation and believe being part of a strong and unique New Zealand Team gives them a performance edge when it matters most.

“The Olympic Games showcase New Zealand and our culture and values to billions of people across the globe. We’re extremely proud of the New Zealand Team and its positive impact in New Zealand and around the world.

“We also honour and remember the New Zealand athletes that marched as ‘Australasians’ at the Olympic Games in London 1908 and Stockholm 1912, as well as those New Zealanders who were unable to attend the boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.”

Alongside rowing, athletics is New Zealand’s most successful sport, earning 10 golds and 24 medals in total. 

To learn more about the achievements of the likes of Dr Jack Lovelock, Dame Yvette Corlett (nee Williams), Sir Peter Snell, Sir Murray Halberg, Sir John Walker and more please visit the Legends section of the Athletics New Zealand website by clicking here 

New Zealand’s top Olympic moments and milestones can be viewed by clicking here

Below is a summary of Olympic Games medal-winning performances in athletics by New Zealanders.

New Zealand Athletics Olympic Games Medals

Sir Arthur Porritt, Men’s 100m, 1924 Paris, Bronze
Jack Lovelock, Men’s 1500m, 1936 Berlin, Gold
John Holland, Men’s 400m Hurdles, 1952 Helsinki, Bronze
Dame Yvette Corlett (nee Williams), Women’s Long Jump, 1952 Helsinki, Gold
Norman Read, Men’s 50km Walk, 1956 Melbourne, Gold
Sir Peter Snell, Men’s 800m, 1960 Rome, Gold
Sir Murray Halberg, Men’s 5000m, 1960 Rome, Gold
Barry Magee, Men’s Marathon, 1960 Rome, Bronze
Sir Peter Snell, Men’s 800m, 1964 Tokyo, Gold
Marise Chamberlain, Women’s 800m, 1964 Tokyo, Bronze
Sir Peter Snell, Men’s 1500m, 1964 Tokyo, Gold
John Davies, Men’s 1500m, 1964 Tokyo, Bronze
Mike Ryan, Men’s Marathon, 1968 Mexico City, Bronze
Rod Dixon, Men’s 1500m, 1972 Munich, Bronze
Dick Quax, Men’s 5000m, 1976 Montreal, Silver
Sir John Walker, Men’s 1500m, 1976 Montreal, Gold
Lorraine Moller, Women’s Marathon, 1992 Barcelona, Bronze
Dame Valerie Adams, Women’s Shot Put, 2008 Beijing, Gold
Nick Willis, Men’s 1500m, 2008 Beijing, Silver
Dame Valerie Adams, Women’s Shot Put, 2012 London, Gold
Dame Valerie Adams, Women’s Shot Put, 2016 Rio de Janeiro, Silver
Tom Walsh, Men’s Shot Put, 2016 Rio de Janeiro, Bronze
Eliza McCartney, Women’s Pole Vault, 2016 Rio de Janeiro, Bronze
Nick Willis, Men’s 1500m, 2016 Rio de Janeiro, Bronze