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Sporting Legends

14 July 2023

From Anthony Wilding and Anna Simcic to Norman Hardie and Elissa Mah, learn about the Sporting Legends UC is showcasing to celebrate our 150th!

Elissa Mah
Elissa Mah

BCom 2011, BCom (Hons) 2011, BA 2012

It wasn’t until studying at UC that Elissa Mah first tried skateboarding. Now, she’s travelling around the world to take on the best women downhill skateboarders – most recently competing in Argentina at the World Skate Games 2022, finishing 9th, then again in Brazil, finishing 1st in the Teutonia Pro Downhill. Elissa is currently the only female member on the New Zealand Downhill Skateboarding team and the four-time Asia Pacific Champion. Alongside her international status, she is regularly involved with the community, helping to build a strong longboarding scene through Garden City Sessions in Christchurch. "I think it’s really cool being a female doing this because it’s not stereotypical. It surprises people and shows if you put your mind to it, you can do anything.”

Photo Credit: Peter Meecham

Norman Hardie
Norman Hardie

BE 1948

Described by Sir Edmund Hillary as "a skilled mountaineer and a formidable explorer...renowned for his considerable determination and refusal to accept defeat", Norman Hardie was a pioneer of the New Zealand mountaineering scene. A member of the first team to climb Kangchenjunga in 1955, the third-highest mountain in the world and an arguably more challenging climb than Everest, Norman made numerous first ascents both in New Zealand and the Himalayas. He has been to Antarctica on three occasions, as an instructor, surveyor, and as leader of Scott Base, and was a director of Hillary’s Himalayan Trust.

Photo credit: ©Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection, 1984

Gilbert Enoka
Gilbert Enoka ONZM

Teacher’s College Diploma 1977, BSc 1980, BA (Hons) 1996

Internationally renowned for his 23-year career with the All Blacks, Gilbert Enoka has a long history of success as a mental skills coach with New Zealand’s corporate and sporting elite. His reputation and expertise have seen him work with the All Blacks, Silver Ferns, Black Caps, Crusaders, and a significant number of international performers excelling on the world stage.  Furthermore, he has spent 12 years acting as general manager for Harcourts International, New Zealand’s largest real estate firm. Before his current position in Management, Gilbert helped to coach and support the All Blacks for 15 years as their Mental Skills Coach, seeing the team win two rugby world cups, one Laureus Award, 20 Bledisloe Cups, three Grand Slams, eight Tri-Nations, and eight rugby championships.

Andrea Hansen
Andrea Hansen MNZM

BCom 2004

Swimming competitively from age six, it was in surf lifesaving that Andrea Hansen (née Hewitt) first represented New Zealand at age 19. Converting to triathlon just a few years later, Andrea qualified in her first event to represent New Zealand in the Under 23 World Championships – which she then won. Now a prominent triathlete, she has represented New Zealand at three Summer Olympics and four Commonwealth Games, winning a bronze medal in both the individual and mixed team relay events in the Melbourne 2006, and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games respectively. Andrea was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2018 for services to triathlon.

Photo credit: Tommy Zaferes

Anna Lawrence
Anna Lawrence

DipT 1994, BEd 1995

From attending the Olympics not once, but thrice for hockey, (twice as a player and once as an athlete mentor) working her way up to a trans-Tasman leadership role at Lion Australia, founding successful online marketing business BOMA, and holding the GM Commercial role at New Zealand Cricket, Anna Lawrence is a true champion achiever. Passionate about sport, business and family she believes options are essential for even the most dedicated young athletes. “You could have a career-ending injury at 20 or retire at 29. Even if you're training full-time, make time to network or study. Be curious about the world and give yourself space to shape what your future might be.”

Selwyn Maister
Dr Selwyn Maister QSM

BSc 1967, MSc 1969

First debuting for New Zealand in 1965, Selwyn Maister successfully balanced his love of hockey and academia while studying both at UC and Oxford University. Competing in four successive Olympic Games as a part of the New Zealand Men’s Olympic Hockey Team from 1969-1980, Selwyn was a member of the gold medal winning team in the 1976 Olympics and captained the team from 1973-1974. He also attended the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games as Assistant Coach of the NZ Women’s Hockey team. In 2012 he was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to Hockey, and in 2014 was appointed President of Paralympics New Zealand and Board Chair.

Reed Prinsep
Reed Prinsep

LLB 2020, BCom 2020

Motivated by making his family and teammates proud each time he runs onto the field, Reed Prinsep knows a thing or two about discipline and hard work. A seasoned rugby player, Reed’s route to the professional ranks was an unconventional one – earning his playing stripes through his club while studying towards his double degree at UC. In 2014 he got an opportunity to play for Canterbury and was called into the Crusaders shortly thereafter. Pulling on the black jersey in 2016, Reed made his debut for the Māori All Blacks, also attracting the attention of the Hurricanes and remaining a regular selection for both teams ever since.

Bruce Ullrich
Bruce Ullrich OBE

BCom 1965

Bruce Ullrich is a fierce champion of New Zealand’s interest in business and sport. A former partner and company director in international accounting and consultancy firms, his expertise lies within trade and investment relationships between NZ and the world, where he has received multiple honours over the past 20 years. Best known for his role as Vice Chairman of the Organising Committee of the 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games, Bruce also held the role of Chef de Mission to three Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams and has been an avid bidder in trying to bring the Winter Olympics to New Zealand. Bruce was awarded an Order of the British Empire for his services to New Zealand.

Anna Richards
Anna Richards MNZM

BA 1989, LLB 1989 

Anna Richards played for the Black Ferns for 20 years; however, it wasn’t until studying at the University of Canterbury that her rugby journey began. After missing out on selection for the Canterbury netball team, Anna found herself in a pair of borrowed boots running around with the UC Women’s Rugby team and never looked back. She has since added four Women’s Rugby World Cup titles and multiple sevens championships to her name. Appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to women’s rugby in 2005, Anna was in the first group of six women to be inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2014.

Pat Vincent
Pat Vincent

Christchurch Teacher’s College 1945, BA 1948

Following a conventional arc of XV, club, provincial, and then national rugby, Pat Vincent’s life was anything but. Receiving a call-up for the Canterbury Rugby team after 1946, Pat became the first player to make 100 appearances for Canterbury, captaining the team for many games. Developing a reputation as a “heads-up halfback with great game sense and a leader of men”, he was called up to the All Blacks to captain two games in 1956 against the Springboks. Emigrating to the USA in 1967, Pat went on to hold roles in coaching and administrating until his passing in 1983. Founder of USA rugby in 1975, and a Governor of the US Rugby Union from 1975 to 1977, Pat’s legacy remains in both NZ and abroad.

Photo credit: Patrick Bernard Vincent. Crown Studios Ltd :Negatives and prints. Ref: 1/2-207957-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Anna Simcic
Anna Simcic

BA 1998

After missing out on selection for the Seoul Olympics by 0.2 seconds while still in high school, Anna became determined to find success in swimming. Within only six years, she had represented Aotearoa at two Olympic Games and won two gold and three silver medals at the Pan Pacific Championships and Commonwealth Games. Throughout her swimming career, Anna was consistently ranked within the top 10 in the world and set a world short course record in 1992 for the 200m backstroke. Since retiring from the sport, Anna has put her sporting experience to good use, advising other athletes on planning and transitioning to life after competing in high-performance sport.

Tayla Bruce
Tayla Bruce

BTchLn 2017 

It was through watching the 2008 World Bowls Championship in Christchurch that 13-year-old Tayla Bruce was inspired to take up Lawn Bowls. Hooked by the sport ever since, she now finds herself juggling primary school teaching with representing her country. Named Bowls New Zealand’s 2022 Female Player of the Year, Tayla earned her title by adding two bronze medals at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games (with the New Zealand Women's Triples and Fours teams respectively) and also by winning gold in the prestigious World Singles Champion of Champions tournament at the end of 2022, her biggest highlight and bowls’ achievement to date.

Anthony Wilding
Anthony Wilding

UC Undergraduate Student 

Considered the world’s first tennis superstar, Anthony Wilding was a world No. 1 tennis player and Wimbledon Champion. After winning the Canterbury Championships aged 17, he developed into a leading tennis player during 1909-1914, winning 11 Grand Slam titles and three ILTF World Championships (nine Singles and five Doubles). In 1910, Wilding won the Wimbledon Men’s Lawn Tennis and remains, to date, the only New Zealander to have done so. Winning on grass, clay, and wood in 1913, he then took out three World Championships on different surfaces, becoming the first player to accomplish this in major tournaments. Wilding was killed in action on the Western Front in May 1915 during World War I. 

Photo credit: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections: AWNS-19120822-16-6 (J Woodland Fullwood)

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