Greatest moments in Otago sport - Number 103

The Otago Daily Times counts down the 150 greatest moments in Otago sport.

No 103: Robertson helps win cross-country title (1975)

Euan Robertson waits beside the radio to hear if he has been selected in the New Zealand cross...
Euan Robertson waits beside the radio to hear if he has been selected in the New Zealand cross-country team. Photo from <i>ODT</i> Files.
Otago's Euan Robertson played a key role when the New Zealand men won the teams title at the world cross-country championships in Morocco in 1975.

Robertson was fifth and the six-man New Zealand team won the teams race with 127 points from England (193) and Belgium (213). John Walker was fourth.

Robertson started conservatively, concentrating on getting into a rhythm, and was in the middle of the field for the first 800m. He had moved up into the front bunch by 4km of the 12km course.

Some athletes wilt under pressure but Robertson lifted his performance when the stakes were high.

He had shifted to Dunedin in 1973 and for the next six years was one of New Zealand's most successful international athletes.

He was not selected for the Olympic Games team in 1976 and that controversial decision sparked a protest movement in Otago, and a public campaign to raise funds to get Robertson to Europe to run a time that would satisfy the selectors.

The Olympic Games selectors kept raising the bar and Robertson satisfied them only on his fourth attempt, with a New Zealand record time of 8min 22.8sec at Stockholm.

He finished sixth in the Olympic Games steeplechase at Montreal and reduced his New Zealand record to 8min 21.08sec.

Robertson followed Dick Tayler as the second Otago athlete to run a sub-four minute mile when he ran 3min 58.90sec in Berlin in 1976.

He returned to the world cross-country championships in 1977 and finished sixth.

Robertson was running with a group of young athletes on the sand dunes at Bethels Beach in Auckland when he collapsed and died of a heart attack at the age of 47, in 1995.



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