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Rebecca Perrott

1974 - 1978

Rebecca Perrott was a champion swimmer, ranked with the best in the world, and has the unusual distinction of being the catalyst for the formation of the New Zealand Sports Foundation, the principal sports funding body.

Perrott was barely noticed when she first swam competitively in New Zealand – she was a member of the Fiji team at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch.  But by the next Games, the Olympics in Montreal, she was swimming for her native New Zealand and was a sensation. 

She was the fastest qualifier from the 400 metres freestyle heats in Montreal and was fourth in the final, missing a medal by a touch.

At the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton in 1978, she won the 200 metres freestyle and was second in the 200 metres individual medley.  It was while preparing for Edmonton that Perrott’s coach, Tony Keenan, talked to champion endurance swimmer and journalist Keith Hancox about the need for money so Perrott could compete internationally.  Hancox raised the necessary money and, reasoning that other sports people would be in similar positions, began negotiations that led to the formation of the foundation, of which he was the original chief executive.