Elite Kiwi athletes are often a humble bunch. They go about their everyday business just like everyone else. Working, socialising, taking part in community events. You may pass one in the office everyday. You may chat with one while waiting to pick your kids up from school or he/she could even be their teacher! But behind the scenes they are training, competing and winning, sometimes in the international arena and you wouldn't even know. They often don't broadcast their achievements. They often don't tell those around them just how good they really are at their chosen sport, but prefer to do their talking on the sportsfield and quietly reflect on their success with family or close friends. How many times have you known someone reasonably well for a while and then have someone else say to you..."did you know that he used to be the National champ?" or notice that someone hasn't been at work for a couple of days only to find out off the boss that " shes in Sydney with the NZ Development Squad". Funny thing is though is that although unexpected, its not that much of a surprise to find another elite kiwi sportsperson sneaking around with the rest of us.
I had a friend at school who was a top swimmer. He was head and shoulders above anyone in his age group in Hawkes Bay at pretty much every style of swimming. His room was full of medals and trophies but he never talked much about it though. He was in the pool at 6am every morning before school. One day I saw his dad at the Central School Store and mentioned that I hadnt seen his son around that weekend. His dad casually (but proudly) said that his son had just broken the U-15 World 50m Backstroke Record at the Pan Pacific Champs in Australia. My friend never once mentioned it and I never asked him. I actually wondered whether or not it was true and soon forgot about it. Many years later I happened to be talking to a Commowealth Games NZ Swimming Rep who was about my own age. I took the opportunity to ask him about my friend and I mentioned his name and what I heard his dad say that day in the dairy about a world record. This swimmer guy chuckled and I thought "here we go.." But he then looked at me and said very seriously..."that guy was way ahead of his time....he was the champ and no-one could touch him." He also confirmed that he was indeed the WR holder and I put that little question mark happily off to bed.
P.S. As Im finishing this article, an example of what I am writing about has just happened in our little shop here this week. A guy came in and was interested in our HYDRATE-X Anti-Cramp. He had tried it on the weekend and had ridden 100kms on his bike with no cramp...(very rare for him apparently). He introduced himself and I knew his name immediately as an elite track and field athlete from a few years ago although he didn't make any reference at all to his stellar career. We chatted a while and as he was leaving I said to him..."Hey you did ok at the Commomwealth Games didn't you?" He quietly said "Yes...Gold Medal..." After he left I did a little research and found that not only did he have a Gold, he had a Commonwealth Games Silver as well as a Commonwealth Record to his name....they walk among us!
You probably have your own story of a sporting legend friend/relative who just didnt seek anything other than personal satisfaction for them and their families.