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Howick and Pakuranga Times : Howick and Pakuranga Times Monday August 4
20 — Howick and Pakuranga Times, Monday, August 4, 2014 www.times.co.nz FOLLOW US ON CRAZY RIDE: Getting to play premier club rugby came as a big enough surprise for Pakuranga United’s Mitchell Hunt, let alone featuring in international tournaments on Twickenham and in Singapore. ➤ page 19 125615-V14 Lifetime in Kiwi sport recalled LABOUR OF LOVE: New Zealand decathlon great and veteran sports reporter Roy Williams has compiled his vast experiences into Sports Crazy. Times photo Daniel Silverton By Daniel Silverton SPORT has framed every facet of former athlete and journalist Roy Williams’ life. Williams’ obsession with sport, from his athletics accomplishments to his career as a respected reporter, is chronicled in Sports Crazy: A Life- time in Kiwi Sport. Starting with his upbringing along- side one of New Zealand’s greatest track and field stars, Sports Crazy is part memoir, part tribute and part manual for sporting success. “When I would tell these stories from the past, fellow sports people would say, ‘you should write a book’,” Williams told the Times. “I tossed it over in my mind and thought these are worth telling. Not only because of mine and Yvette’s sporting careers, but also the adven- tures I’ve had covering Olympic and Commonwealth Games. “A lot of the stories have never been told.” Williams is the younger brother of Pakuranga’s Yvette Corlett (nee Wil- liams), the first Kiwi woman to win an Olympic gold medal at Helsinki in 1952 and four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist. Yvette’s ability and status in New Zealand sport were the initial lens through which Williams viewed the world, and also how it viewed him. As Peter Heidenstrom explains: ‘When Yvette Williams won her Olympic title, Roy Williams ceased to exist. Instead he became Yvette’s little brother. ‘What drove him was quite a simple thing but it had a profound effect... he set out to become his own person.’ With Yvette being a defining part of Williams’ life, Sports Crazy gives a close-up and behind-the scenes account of her amazing sports exploits. “I itemise very clearly all the hard work she would do and sacrifices she would make,” says Williams. Part of the motivation for the book was the desire to document the life of an athlete in the amateur era, which Williams says would be inconceiv- able to someone from the modern sporting environment. “On top of training three times a day, Yvette had to work a 37.5 hour week. There were no weight training facilities, so she used concrete blocks and sandbags for resistance. “To represent NZ at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952 she had to buy the material and zip and make her own shorts. “There is no substitute for hard work. I think [the book] is quite inspi- rational for the next generation.” Williams quickly emerged from his sibling’s shadow to forge his own ath- letics feats, culminating in 15 years competing internationally. Sports Crazy provides the back story to his time as a regional and NZ basketball representative, then in the decathlon, the discipline he became a champion in and for. His many highs, including 14 NZ decathlon titles and record holder from 1956 to 1984, Commonwealth Games gold medallist in Jamaica in 1966 having campaigned for the event to be included in the programme, and being named NZ Sportsman of the Year, are outlined. So is the major disappointment of his competitive tenure, missing out on selection for four consecutive Olympics. “I was heartbroken so many times missing out on the Olympic Games, I felt I had to tell the inside story behind it,” says Williams. “I’ve had a crack at a few people.” His move into journalism allowed Williams to stay involved in sport, and he applied the same values of hard work, respect, loyalty and integ- rity to the trade as he did on the track and field. Williams was an athlete and sports fan first though, and his loyalty was unashamedly to fellow sports people than to any journalistic exposés. “One of my proudest moments was covering the 1972-73 All Blacks [northern hemisphere] tour, which was very difficult,” says Williams. “But I got along with all of the play- ers, unlike several of the NZ media, because every morning when they trained I would go and do my own workout. “I think the fact I had competed at the top level, I had empathy for the players, because I knew the training they had to go through and the inju- ries they had. I had been down that track. “It was stressful writing two or three stories a day, but it was very enjoyable. “Guys like Tane Norton, Ian Kirk- patrick, Bryan Williams and Sid Going are still lifelong friends.” Sports Crazy is filled with interest- ing anecdotes from the many pivotal sporting moments Williams covered in his 25 years at the Auckland Star, such as the Keith Murdoch affair, the terrorist attack at the 1972 Olympics and the 1981 Springbok tour. “My late wife and I, and a couple of other All Blacks, had a beer with Murdoch five minutes before it hap- pened,” says Williams. “So I was Johnny on the spot. The book gives a very good account of that incident which has become rugby folklore. “I’vehadacrackatafewofmy Auckland Star bosses as well,” he says. Fittingly for a man who has been involved in a plethora of sports in almost every role, Sports Crazy also touches on a wide variety of topics, including the development of Mt Smart Stadium, the history of NZ sports funding, the introduction of triathlon to NZ and has Williams’ thoughts on mental toughness. Williams’ experiences as the brother of a pioneering sporting superstar, an elite competitor, and seasoned reporter, are told with the inimitable energy he showed in the athletics arena, which make Sports Crazy a thoroughly enjoyable read and a unique resource for Kiwi sports fans.
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