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Monday 08 November 2010

Cologne Calling: Don Barclay

Posted in: Hall of Fame
By Jacqui Stanford - 18th July 2010

Around 50 New Zealand athletes and performers will represent our community at Gay Games Cologne, which open on 31 July.

The Kiwi team will be led by a strong contingent of swimmers, but it also includes track and field athletes, hockey, tennis and billiards players, figure skaters, cyclists, bodybuilders and even singers. is bringing you a series of profiles on our athletes, who are heading to Cologne to wave the Kiwi rainbow flag.


Athlete: Don Barclay
Events: Discus and Shot Put

Don Barclay
Putting it simply, I really like winning," is the mantra of Wellington athlete Don Barclay. And win he does – the 57-year-old has claimed an incredible nine gold medals in his sporting career, which has spanned six Gay Games so far.

In Vancouver, 1990, he won the first of his golds in badminton. He switched to discus in Chicago (2006) and will be competing in discus and shot put in Cologne.

Clearly a tenacious competitor, he has battled back from breaking a wrist in October – and was only able to start training in March. He hits the gym five times a week to take care of his upper body strength and aerobic fitness, but the actual outdoor training for the summer sports has been tough in the middle of a wet Wellington winter.

"Luckily I know the groundsman of a nearby high school in Lower Hutt and have been able to use their concrete throwing circle. I can confirm that the 6kg shot makes quite a hole in the ground at this time of the year," he says.

Sport has always played a large part in Barclay's life. "I spent the first 30 years of my life in South Taranaki, filling my life with sports and hobbies while working on my parents dairy farm," he says.

He played badminton from a very young age and was captain of his local club in his late teens, remaining so for a number of years. He has scored a number of wins in all sorts of sport, yet there is one moment which stands out in his mind.

"It was at the Gay Games in Amsterdam in 1998. I was playing ‘B' mixed doubles in badminton with Peggy Bennington from Mill Valley, San Francisco. We had won the Masters mixed doubles in New York four years earlier," he says.

"In the final which was to three sets, we lost the first set and then fought back and won the next two after a really hard battle against two opponents from Belgium. Peggy is about four years older than myself – after we had won, several people came up and asked how old we were!"

Don Barclay proudly holding the NZ rainbow flag
Barclay switched to discus and now shot put, as he was finding it hard to play badminton against people half his age.

"Unfortunately the organising committees of most of the recent Gay Games did not have age groups or Masters in badminton as has been the case in most other sports," he says.

His competitors in Cologne should take note; Barclay is extremely competitive, in anything he takes on. "I inherited my grandfather's competitive streak – he once said to me 'There are no prizes for second!' We both played in an indoor bowling team and were a very strong combination with our attitude."

Barclay, who works at the NZAF's Awhina Centre, says the Gay Games have provided the vehicle for him to satisfy his competitive nature, travel with great people and an excuse to see the world.

"I love the atmosphere of the Gay Games – the camaraderie and excitement between my fellow team members, the friendship between competitors in a safe environment and catching up with people from previous Games," he says.

"Two of my friends who moved from Auckland to Melbourne a few years ago are also going to be at Cologne – we have organized a trip down the River Rhine, this would be one of many highlights that I am looking forward to."

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Jacqui Stanford - 18th July 2010