With the Olympics now over, it's time to remember New Zealand’s very first medal winner, Harry Kerr.
Harry didn’t win a gold or even a silver medal, but on July 14, 1908 he won New Zealand’s very first medal...a bronze….for walking (now called race walking).
Henry (called Harry) Edward Kerr was born on January 28, 1879, in Taranaki, the son of Edward and Sarah Kerr (nee Hutchinson), both from Northern Ireland.
At 193cm tall, he was a born athlete, a keen rugby player and champion shooter, and did many track and field events.
But it would be walking that earned him his medal.
New Zealand was not able to field its own team so he and three others went to the Summer Olympics in London in 1908 as part of an Australasian team.
He took part in the 3500 metre walk and came in third place, which gave New Zealand its first ever Olympian.
Harry had nearly missed the start of the race though, busy chatting to officials under the grandstand while the race was lining up.
He later qualified for the final of the 10 mile walk but did not start due to injured feet.
He nearly had not gone at all. He had become a professional athlete early in his career and when he sought reinstatement as an amatuer he had to stand down for two years to qualify.
He retained his fitness clearing scrub on the family farm near Stratford.
Kerr then won national titles over one and three miles in 1911, won the mile again in 1912 and was again Australasian champion over both distances in 1909.
Like many men of his generation he enlisted during World War One, joining the New Zealand Medical Corp and served in France. He was slightly wounded but remained with his unit, returning to New Zealand at the end of the war.
He returned to walking - at the national championships in 1925 - aged 46 - and won the one and three mile titles.
Later he also represented Taranaki at lawn bowls.
Harry died on May 17, 1951 aged 72, and is buried in the Inglewood Cemetery with his wife Isabelle. He has a simple headstone that gives no hint of the extraordinary feats he accomplished.
He was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.