NZ Olympic Legend Simon Dickie Dies

The 1972 NZ intimidating, mean-looking, black machine, which took gold in Munich. Cox Simon Dickie on the far right.

15 December 2017

New Zealand triple Olympic medallist coxswain Simon Dickie suddenly passed away on 13 December, New Zealand media reported yesterday. He was 66. His death was confirmed by Rowing New Zealand.

At the age of 17, Dickie coxed the four that took New Zealand’s first gold medal ever in rowing, at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Four years later, he coxed the NZ eight to another Olympic gold medal in Munich. Athol Earl, one of Dickie’s crewmates in the 1972 eight, told New Zealand media, ‘He was an extrovert, very intelligent, sharp and perceptive – and confident in his abilities as a coxswain, because he was probably the best in the world. Actually, no “probably” about it: he was.’

At the 1971 European Championships in Copenhagen, the NZ eight were hungry for a medal. Rumours had it that the crews from the Eastern bloc were on drugs. However, the New Zealand crew, with Dickie as cox, led from start to finish, beating the East Germans and the Soviets for the top medal.

‘It was an enormous result for us in Denmark when we beat the East German Eight at the European Championships. It was a pretty bloody patchy row that we had to be honest, so we knew that we had the building blocks to pull off a huge upset in 1972,’ Dickie said in an interview in the March 2014 issue of OarSport magazine (full article here).

At the 1972 Munich Olympics, the Kiwi eight showed up in black: black oars, black boat, black singlet, black shorts. Dickie later recalled: ‘The boat was almost hissing, it was so fast. We were a mean-looking machine. There’s absolutely no question we were intimidating, all in black.’ About NZ ‘blackness’, click here.

Watch the 1972 Olympic eights final below (9.57 min):

Dickie came out of retirement for the 1976 Montreal Games, where he steered the NZ eight to a bronze medal.

He was one of two Kiwi rowers with three Olympic medals, the other being Mahé Drysdale.

Simon Dickie, born 31 March 1951, died 13 December 2017.

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