Leonard Cuff

(1866 - 1954)

Leonard Cuff
The Mr Versatile of New Zealand sport in the late 19th century, he was directly responsible for New Zealand and Australia getting in on the ground floor of the Olympic Games (even though New Zealanders didn’t compete at a Games until 1908).

Cuff, who won three national long jump titles between 1889 and 1897 and was an accomplished hurdler, was the founding secretary of the New Zealand Amateur Athletic Association and in 1892 led the first formal New Zealand athletics team to Britain and France.

In Paris, he met Pierre de Coubertin and when the modern Olympics were founded two years later, Coubertin asked Cuff to be one of the original members of the International Olympic Committee. One of Cuff’s duties, which he was happy to carry out, was to interest Australia in the fledgling Olympic movement.

Cuff also captained the first official New Zealand cricket team and played rugby for Canterbury. He moved to Tasmania in 1899 and there devoted his considerable energies to golf and bowls and when he died, he was described as the grand old man of Tasmanian sport.
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