1948 Olympic veteran’s advice for Kiwi squad
Wed, 18 Jul 2012 4:48p.m.
By Charlotte Shipman
The last surviving member of the 1948 New Zealand Olympic team has some advice for the current team beginning to arrive in London.
Ngaire Galloway's time in London, just three years after World War Two, is a far cry from what today's athletes will experience.
“[I felt] very excited, very excited - it all lay before us, it was a great feeling,” says Galloway, as she remembers what it felt like to wear the silver fern ahead of the 1948 Olympic Games.
Sixty four years ago she was Ngaire Lane, and as the only woman on the team of seven, she had to do more than just be the best backstroker in the country.
“There was a proviso that I could supply my own chaperone and she would pay her own way! That's terrible isn't it, it's really awful,” says Galloway.
During the six-week voyage to London she barely trained.
“The ship's carpenter built an oversize bath out of a big crate and they filled it will fresh seawater [but] all I could do was put my arms on the sides and kick,” she says.
They arrived to a city still scarred by war and Galloway came seventh in her semi-final, wearing a borrowed men's silk swimsuit.
“That was just the most devastating feeling - it wasn't that I didn't win, you just felt the weight of the whole country expecting you to do so much better and I could have done so much better.”
She has this advice for the 2012 New Zealand team: “If you support one another, the support within the team means a huge amount. I hope they do that but above all I hope they all do well, I really do,” she says.
And she promises she'll be watching.
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