Olympic and Sporting Pursuits

Athletes from over 200 nations competed for their countries at the 27th Olympiad in Sydney, Australia. To mark this significant sporting event an Olympic and Sporting Pursuits stamp issue, incorporating four Olympic and two non-Olympic sports, was released.

Issue information

The Olympic sports – rowing, equestrian, cycling, and triathlon – have traditionally been successful sports for New Zealanders. All four were selected with the assistance of the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

The Olympic torch journeyed from Olympia, through New Zealand, and spent 100 days travelling around Australia on its way to Sydney for the opening ceremony of the Games on 15 September.

For a small country, New Zealand has achieved considerable success at international sporting events. New Zealand was not represented at the first three modern Olympiads in Athens 1896, Paris 1900 and St Louis 1904 due to costs and travel distances. Despite this, New Zealand’s Olympic history is rich with memorable sporting moments. The first Olympic medal ever won by a New Zealander was as an Australasian representative: Harry Kerr won a bronze medal for the 3,500 metre walk in 1908.

Product Listing for Olympic and Sporting Pursuits

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 40c 'Rowing' gummed stamp.

Rowing is one of the most fiercely competitive inter-school sports in New Zealand and this grassroots competition appears the ideal grounding for future Olympic aspirants. At Olympic level New Zealand has a fine tradition in rowing. The highlight was undoubtedly the achievement in winning a gold medal in the men’s eights, the glamour event of the rowing regatta at the 1972 Games in Munich.

New Zealand won its first rowing medal in 1920 at Antwerp, the first year of competition as an independent nation after previously competing as members of the Australasian team. Darcy Hadfield won the bronze in the single sculls events.

Single Stamp

Single 80c 'Equestrian' gummed stamp.

Equestrian has also been a medal-winning sport for New Zealand – the first in 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympics.

The New Zealand equestrian team went on to win team and individual medals at subsequent Olympic Games, including a silver medal in the 1992 three-day event in Barcelona. In that same year, New Zealand cyclist, Gary Anderson, won a bronze in the 4,000 metre individual pursuit.

Single Stamp

Single $1.10 'Cycling' gummed stamp.

There are many contentious issues in the history of Olympic sport and for New Zealand cycling houses one of the most contentious.

In the 1972 road race in Munich, New Zealand’s Bruce Biddle finished fourth but was later promoted to third place after the bronze medallist was disqualified for a positive drug test. However Biddle was never awarded a medal and to this day does not appear on a list of New Zealand medallists.

New Zealand’s first medal in cycling came in Barcelona in 1992. Wanganui track cyclist Gary Anderson had dominated the track events at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland two years prior and finally made the breakthrough for New Zealand cycling at an Olympic level when he took the bronze medal in the 4,000 metre individual pursuit.

Single Stamp

Single $1.20 'Triathlon' gummed stamp.

A combination of swimming, cycling and running, the triathlon is an exacting discipline that only the fittest will complete in. With the phenomenal growth in this relatively new sport in recent years it was perhaps only a matter of time before Olympic officials realised its worth and added it to the Olympic programme.

Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Bowls' gummed stamp.

Bowls is not part of the Olympic Games programme but a mainstay of Commonwealth Games. The game demands an extraordinary eye and a deft touch, split second timing and a keen sense of strategy.

Once again, this is a sport where New Zealand has enjoyed considerable success at both world and Commonwealth Games’ levels; more than might have been expected from a country our size. New Zealand has been represented in bowls in 13 Commonwealth Games. In that time, we have won no less than 27 medals, of which nine were gold. An impressive achievement.

Single Stamp

Single $1.80 'Netball' gummed stamp.

Netball is New Zealand’s second most popular sport – having originated in a paddock in the early 1900s, it is now played by more than 12,000 teams throughout the country.

Though netball is another sport that is not part of the Olympic programme, it made a stunning entry into the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. On that occasion, New Zealand won the silver medal.

First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $7.30
Presentation Pack Presentation pack containing a selection of of stamp products from the issue and further information on the theme of the stamps. $10.00

Technical information

Date of issue: 4 August 2000
Designer: Martin Bailey, Auckland
Printer: Southern Colour Print, New Zealand
Stamp size: 41.14mm x 28mm
Sheet size: 25 stamps
Process: Lithography
Perforation gauge: 14
Paper type: 103 gsm red phosphor coated
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 3 August 2001.