COMMONWEALTH Games gold medalist Dick Tayler remembers fondly running the track at the Browns Domain back in the 1970s.
Tayler was the special guest at the Browns Athletic Society’s 118th annual sports day on Saturday and said it was ‘‘quite special’’ to come back to the track for the first time since then.
‘‘These community tracks and coun› try competitions were an important part of an athlete’s training back then,’’ he said.
Tayler (67), who lives in Waikouaiti, north of Dunedin, won the gold medal in the 10,000m running event at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christ› church. It was the opening event for the games and Tayler said it was also the moment he became known as Dick.
‘‘I walked onto the track with the name Richard Tayler and walked off as Dick Tayler, thanks to [sports commentator] Keith Quinn and from that moment on I was known as Dick. My mum wasn’t too happy, but I didn’t mind.’’
Tayler was coached for the Com› monwealth Games by renowned New Zealand athletics coach Arthur Lydiard. His training regimen included Tayler running 300km each week and doing 500 push›ups every day.
‘‘I used to eat steak before a race, but Lydiard insisted I eat honey on toast as it was easier on the digestive system. And I also drank a lot of flat Coke in the weeks before a race. [Lydiard] said ‘that was the only time you will ever need to drink the stuff in your life’. He was a man ahead of his time.’’
Tayler said he had expected the numbers of competitive athletes to increase since his time running, and said it was a disappointment to see young ones weren’t taking the sport up.
‘‘Young girls get managed into netball and young boys play rugby. They see it on the TV. But there is no real coverage of athletics and it’s sad because potentially we [New Zealand] probably have the best sportspeople in the world.’’
The Browns Sports Day included many sporting activities for competi› tors and families including athletics, cycling events, mountain biking, golf and woodchopping.
Among the competitors was woodchopper Simon Bond, of North› ern Wales.
Bond (23) is touring New Zealand for six months competing in as many woodchopping events as he can while he is here.
He is currently ranked in the top three for his country and represents the British team internationally and said he was hoping to develop and learn new skills while in New Zealand.
‘‘The single saw is my favourite event, but I do them all,’’ he said.
Other entertainment on the day included Highland dancing, a family running relay, children’s novelty races, an ideal woman and man competition, and a baby show.