Four new Sports Legends of Wellington were inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday following their announcement at the 2014 The Dominion Post Wellington Sportsperson of the Year Awards on Thursday 12th June. The Sports Legends of Wellington played a significant role on the night of the awards which saw past legends celebrated and the 2014 inductees announced.
Each year since 2003 the Legends Academy meets to decide upon the Sports Legends of Wellington. The legends are then announced by Sport Wellington and inducted into the programme. This year’s inductees include Ron McKenzie (tennis), Bevan Smith (athletics), Mark Sorenson (softball) and Kenny McFadden (basketball).
A highlight of the awards night was a sit down interview between Keith Quinn, Chairman of the Legends Academy, and Mark Sorenson. Quinn and Sorenson spoke about what it takes to be a world champion three times over and the demands of being a player compared to a coach. The Black Socks coach was supported on the evening by his family, including his father, Dave Sorenson. Both Dave and Mark are members of the ISC Hall of Fame.
Kenny McFadden was also celebrated on the night, beginning a successful evening for Basketball. McFadden won four NBL titles with the Wellington Saints as a player coach and has stayed in the limelight through his association with basketball, namely helping Steven Adams achieve early success in his NBA career with the Oklahoma City Thunder. McFadden is still heavily involved in Hoop Club, the largest basketball club in the country.
Bevan Smith, the first inductee with an athletics background, was unable to attend on the night but was represented by his long time coach Malcolm Thomas and wife Anne Smith. Smith was a Bronze Medal winner at the 1974 Commonwealth Games and also represented New Zealand at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Also honoured this year was the late Ron McKenzie, a Wellington tennis stalwart. McKenzie was a New Zealand Junior tennis champion in 1940 in a career affected by World War II. He won the national men’s singles title four times and the men’s doubles six times. Most notably, McKenzie helped New Zealand defeat Norway 3-2, climbing back from being 2-0 down, as part of the New Zealand Davis Cup team in 1947. That same year, McKenzie reached the second round of the Wimbledon Championship.
The Sports Legends of Wellington are managed by Sport Wellington. Once inducted, personalised plaques are installed at the ASB Sports Centre in Kilbirnie providing a permanent site of recognition. Sport Wellington CEO, Phil Gibbons says the Sports Legends of Wellington are a way to celebrate the regions sporting success from the past. “Sport Wellington is proud to be associated with such a prestigious group of sporting individuals from across a wide range of sports.”
“The Sports Legends of Wellington are on display at the ASB Sports Centre, a place where a number of Wellington’s legends of the future train and compete. By celebrating these legends we hope they will inspire the next generation of legends from the greater Wellington region.” Gibbons added.
Below: Bev McKenzie unveiling Ron McKenzie's plaque at the ASB Sports Centre in Kilbirnie