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Cecil Matthews
Inducted in 1996
There could have been no greater praise for Matthews than to be dubbed “the Nurmi of the Empire” after the great Finn, Paavo Nurmi, who dominated middle and long-distance running in the 1920s.
Sporting Category:
  • Athletics
Remarkably, Matthews made his mark in world athletics in a short time. He went to the Berlin Olympics in 1936, but failed to qualify for the final of the 5000m. It was there though that he came under the influence of Jack Lovelock and Matthews recalled years later he would not have achieved as much in athletics were it not for the advice he received.

Two years later, Matthews put the advice into practice at the Empire Games in Sydney. He won the three miles in 13min 59.6sec, a Games record and a time that remained the New Zealand record for 15 years.

He won the six miles as well, in 30min 14.5sec and won by half a lap. It was the only six-mile race of his career.

Great things were expected of Matthews at the 1940 Olympic Games first scheduled for Tokyo and then moved to Helsinki, but World War II brought a halt to the Games as well as Matthews’ career.

Sporting Spotlight

Barrie Devenport

(1935 - )

The challenge, to be the first in recorded history, to swim Cook Strait was likened to other sporting challenges such as Roger Bannister’s first sub-four minute mile and Sir Edmund Hillary’s conquest of Everest.
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