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West Auckland Sporting Legends – The Wattyl Wall of Fame

Athletes: Darren Liddell, Dennis Williams, Suzanne Timms (representing Chris Timms), Bill Baillie, Yvonne Willering, Beatrice Faumuina. In front: Tuna
Scanlan. All acknowledged in the Vision Rentals tribute to the Wattyl Wall of Fame at the Sport Waitakere Excellence Awards 2012.

The West Auckland area has bred or nurtured an astonishing number and diversity of sporting champions, many of whom have stood at the top of the world in their sport. These outstanding men and women are immortalised in the “Wattyl Wall of Fame” in the Genesis Lounge of The Trusts Arena.

Sir Peter Snell, Sir Murray Halberg, John Davies and Bill Baillie dominated world athletics in the 1960’s. Baillie and Halberg were West Aucklanders and the whole group trained together in the Waitakere Ranges and on our west coast beaches, under the legendary Arthur Lydiard who used his Titirangi home as their training base.

Roy Williams, the 11 time New Zealand champion decathlete between 1956 and 1970, was of the same era. He was the gold medallist at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica. On his day he was good enough for an Olympic medal, sadly he never got the chance to find out. Yet another is “Queen Bea”, Beatrice Faumuina, ONZM, Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award winner, former world discus champion, Olympian and twice Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

Bruce McLaren is acknowledged. Runner up in the Formula One world championship in 1960, this former Westie was one of the world’s greatest racing drivers in the 1950’s and 60’s and the youngest (at that time) to win a Formula One Race. He created the McLaren racing team, which in the 1960’s, with Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme as drivers, so dominated the North American Can Am sports car series that it became known as the “Bruce and Denny Show”. Although McLaren was killed in 1970 the racing team that bears his name, today ranks with Ferrari as the winningest team in Formula One.

The late Chris Timms (and team mate Rex Sellers) won the yachting gold in the Tornado class at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and silver at the 1988 Olympics at Seoul.

Chris was a founder of the Don Oliver Youth Sport Foundation set-up to honour another Wall of Famer, Westie Olympian, weightlifter Don Oliver, OBE. “The Don” competed at three Olympic Games and won silver and then gold at successive Commonwealth Games. He was 12 times New Zealand heavyweight weightlifting champion.

Some of the other outstanding West Auckland sports people to grace the Wall of Fame are Darren Liddell, Olympic weightlifter, Dennis Williams, Rugby League international, Yvonne Willering, Netball international and international coach, Black Caps batsmen Martin Guptill and Craig Spearman, and Tuna Scanlan former New Zealand and British Empire middleweight Boxing champion.