Verdonk and first women's four honoured

Legacy Medals were presented to nine New Zealand representative rowers in celebration of their contribution to the history of New Zealand rowing during a special presentation at the 2020 Rocket Food New Zealand Rowing Championships.

The Legacy Programme was created to acknowledge and honour New Zealand’s elite rowers who have competed at major international regattas.

Those that received Legacy medals at this event were: Eric Verdonk, Marion Horwell, Robyn Mathieson, Elizabeth Cato, Lesley Keys, Vicki Colville, Fiona Bourke, Peter Delaney and Tania Delaney.

Eric Verdonk (pictured) had a long international rowing career covering two Olympic Games, five World Championships and a Commonwealth Championships. His first representation was in the single scull at the 1987 World Championships in Copenhagen. The highlights for Verdonk were the bronze medal in the single scull at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and another bronze at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in 1986. He also finished a very close 4th at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

The 1974 coxed four of Marion Horwell, Robyn Mathieson, Elizabeth Cato, Lesley Milne (Keys) and coxswain Vicki Colville were the first women to represent New Zealand at a World Rowing Championships event.

Marion Horwell continued to have a successful rowing career following her 1974 representation including the 1975 and 1976 women’s Australian tour in the coxed four. In 1978 World Championships at Lake Karapiro, Marion was in the women’s eight finishing in seventh placing and the coxed four also in seventh placing. At the 1979 World Championships in Bled Marion competed in the double sculls. Marion has established a distinguished career in coaching with Rowing NZ, appointed as a Regional Performance coach in 2005 and selected for Under 23 and Elite team coaching roles from 2003 through to 2019.

Following her selection in the 1974, Robyn Matheson was also in the coxed four who took part in an Australian tour in 1975 and then was in the eight and coxed four when Australian State crews came to New Zealand in 1976. Following that Robyn was in the coxed four to compete against Australian State crews in Australia 1977. At the 1978 World Championships at Lake Karapiro, Robyn was in the coxless pair finishing in sixth place.

As well as racing in the coxed four in 1974, Liz Cato also competed in the FISA Women’s European championships in Brandenburg, East Germany, in the single sculls in 1972 and was coach of the women’s crews competing against Australian states in New Zealand in 1976.

Lesley Milne was also in the coxed four at the Australian Women’s Championship in 1970 at Brisbane where they were the winners and again in 1973 at the same championships in Geelong. Following her rowing career Lesley became active as an administrator and was the team manager in 1975 for the women’s tour to Australia and in 1986 was the Junior team manager. Since then Lesley has had a distinguished career in rowing including serving on the 1978 World Championships organising committee at Lake Karapiro and was the first women President of Rowing New Zealand for two years in 2007-2009. 

Fiona Bourke represented New Zealand in the women’s quad, double and single between 2010 and 2015. Most notably, she raced in the women's quad at the London Olympic and was crowned a world champion in the double with team mate Zoe Stevenson in 2014.

Peter Delaney was a member of the men’s eight that raced at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964 where they finished in 11th. The following year he was included in the Australia-New Zealand series of races in Australia and was in the eight recording three wins and the coxed four with one win. In 1967 he was selected in the eight for the FISA North American Championships held at St Catherine’s, Canada, where they won the gold medal. This crew also competed at the United States National Championships at Philadelphia, USA, where they also won the gold medal.

Tania Delaney, daughter of Peter Delaney represented New Zealand in the women’s eight in 1991 at the World Championships in Vienna, Austria, where she was in the women’s eight. Prior to that, Tania was selected in the Junior eight and coxless four for the test series against Australia in New Zealand in 1990 and followed this with the 1992 Under 23 series against Australia in Australia where she was in the coxless four and again in 1994 the same series this time in the double sculls.