Family gives Williams memorabilia to hall of fame

New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame chief executive Ron Palenski pictured yesterday with the top...
New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame chief executive Ron Palenski pictured yesterday with the top Yvette Williams wore at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Olympic champion Yvette Williams’ family has donated all the memorabilia she acquired during her storied career to the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in Dunedin.

And it is some loot.

An Olympic gold medal, Empire Games medals, the top she wore when she won the long jump at the Olympic Games and the athletics shoes she used when she jumped 6.24m into the long jump pit in Helsinki.

Williams, who became Yvette Corlett when she married Barry Corlett in late 1954, died in April last year, aged 89. She was born and bred in Dunedin.

Hall of fame chief executive Ron Palenski said Williams’ family had decided to give all the items kept by the athletics great Yvette Williams to the hall of fame. The family it was the appropriate place for the memorabilia.

He said it was great recognition for the hall and great to have Williams’ medals and other items. With her being a Dunedin athlete it was good to have the items back in her old home town.

She always enjoyed coming back to Dunedin from her Auckland home, he said. Her old school, Otago Girls’ High School, has a house named after her.

Palenski is working through the process on how to display the new items. The hall already had an eye-catching display of Williams and how far she jumped in Helsinki.

Along with that Olympic gold, she won a gold medal in the long jump and a silver medal in the javelin at the Empire Games in Auckland in 1950 and gold medals at the 1954 Empire Games in Vancouver in the long jump, discus and shot put, shortly before she retired.

The hall has also been donated some wooden marker pegs made by her father to mark her run-up in Helsinki.

She used to keep all her medals and other items under her bed at her home in Auckland.

The gold medal was kept in its original case. It was not until 1964 that Olympians received their medals with a ribbon and hung them around their necks.


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