Lynnette O’Connor (Massey)
1976 to 1980
Very few Matamata College students have reached the heights of competing at the Olympics. This young lady did that competing at the Los Angeles games in 1984 in the 400 m hurdles.
Lynnette was very studious in the classroom but it was on the sports field that she excelled. That tall, elegant and lithe frame with a mass of flowing red hair was a spectacular sight! Lynnette loved netball and still plays but maybe just coaching next year! She was always in the “A” team – 3rds A, 4ths A and College A, was a member of the 1979 tour to Australia.
Even though Lynnette was a netball fanatic, she was an all-round sportswoman and became the star of the hurdles track. She was very fortunate to have Warwick Fenton (HOD PE) as her trainer. Warwick, a NZ Rep himself in sprints, was instrumental in getting Lynnette to the top. One of her first memories of a training session with Warwick was him telling her that you had to come through nice and low with the trail leg. She did and broke the hurdle in half – the bruise was quite impressive. Thankfully she says, it didn’t put her off!
Her accomplishments are many and impressive, winning:
1979, 1980 100 m Hurdles Junior title (Broke the NZ record on several occasions)
1984 100 m Hurdles Senior Women
400 m Hurdles Senior Women (NZ Record)
1985 400 m Hurdles Senior Women (NZ Record)
400 m Senior Women
1991/2/3/4 400 m Hurdles Senior Women
1984 Olympic Games Los Angeles 400 m Hurdles
1991 World Track and Field, Tokyo 17th place
1985 Pacific Conference Games, San Francisco, Bronze Medal
During the height of her success Lynnette was twice the Waikato Athlete of the Year.
Post athletics and training, Lynnette worked for 10 years in the retail jewellery trade. Working in Queenstown for Michael Hill in his exclusive store and getting on really with Michael and his wife have been a highlight. Lynnette says Christine (Michael’s wife) is a fabulous artist and her flair for assisting with the window displays always had the “wow” factor
Lynnette and her family have lived in many places throughout New Zealand. At the moment they live in Greymouth with their three kids, Ryan (15), Victoria (13) and Charlotte (11). Of course they are all sporty playing hockey, netball, dancing and kayaking.
Presently Lynnette works at the brand new Greymouth Aquatic Centre as a Lifeguard/Aquacise Instructor. She runs rehabilitation classes for stroke survivors. The class is called Stroke Support but it tends to have more arthritis sufferers and people recouping after joint replacements. For many these classes are life changing and it is amazing to see how they impact on their lives. She also runs the YWCA Encore programme for breast cancer survivors. After completing the eight week programme she is astounded how their mobility, flexibility, renewed self esteem and confidence from exercise sessions and socialising with other survivors develops.