7 March 2017
Yesterday, it was announced that Kiwi rower Dudley Storey, OBE passed away after having been diagnosed recently with motor neurone disease. He was 77 years old.
Storey, born in 1939, was an Olympian who won gold in the coxed four at the Olympic Games in Mexico City in 1968 and silver in the coxless four in Munich in 1972.
In 1963, Storey, together with Darien Boswell, Peter Masfen, Alistair Dryden, and Bob Page as the cox, won the inaugural Prince Phillip Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, in a boat they bought in England for £300. A year later, the same four went to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where they ended up in eighth place. For the 1968 Olympic event, Storey, Dick Joyce, Ross Collinge, Warren Cole and Simon Dickie (cox) were spare men for the New Zealand eight. Neither of them expected to race in the Mexico Games; even their coach, Rusty Robertson, called them ‘the funniest looking crew you’ve ever seen’.
However, the four really thought they had something good going. In an interview many years later, Storey told a reporter: ‘After five or six weeks of training in Christchurch we had a meeting with the selectors and told them we didn’t want to be stuffed around. It was like going into a war zone. There were some pretty hard-nosed people on both sides but we were determined.’
The selectors agreed to let them race.
For the 2016 Games in Rio, a New Zealand newspaper talked to Storey’s crew mate, Warren Cole, who said that the crew arrived in Mexico City five weeks before the Games started, as the first team in the Olympic village. ‘We had those five weeks of acclimatisation and I believe that we needed every single day of it, but a lot of the other crews didn’t come until quite later on,’ Cole said.
And the four managed to deliver, by winning the Olympic gold – this after only having raced three times together: in the preliminary heat, semifinal and final!
Here is a short clip of the final of the coxed four race at the 1968 Olympic Games, with Storey:
At the 1971 European Championships outside Copenhagen, Storey placed fourth in the coxed four with Noel Mills, Ross Collinge, Raymond Barry and Peter Lindsay (cox). At the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Storey teamed up with Dick Tonks, Collinge and Mills to win the silver in the coxless four.
Between 1982 and 1986, Storey was New Zealand’s national rowing coach, managing the country’s rowing teams at the Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984 and the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1986.
In the 1983 New Year Honours, Storey was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to rowing. In 1990, the medal-winning 1968 crew was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.