Professor David Gerrard on Fairness in Sport and in Life (#95)
Nothing beats time spent practising to develop a skill. Getting better requires doing the work. But practice doesn’t go the distance unless it’s self-motivated.
Inner drive is crucial to realising potential – I’ve seen it play out countless times in aspiring athletes.
And there’s no better example than David Gerrard – a man who swam for NZ at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Growing up, David would strap his togs to the handlebars, throw his towel around his neck and bike his way the few blocks to the Mt Eden pool. His mum and dad never woke him up at 5 am to get him to the pool. He knew what he had to do to get better. And if he wasn’t prepared to it, that was his problem.
David’s internal drive to get better not only served him well in his athletics but in a long and illustrious career in medicine.
David worked a the University of Otago for 35 years and became a Professor in 2014. He retired two years later and was granted the title of Emeritus Professor.
He has also held a number of highly distinguished sport administration roles including Chef de Mission at the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games and 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Medical Commissioner to eight Summer Olympic Games, Chairman of Drug Free Sport NZ, a member of World Rugby’s Anti Doping Advisory Committee, Chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency Therapeutic Use Exemption Committee and President of Swimming NZ.
In 2007, David was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Today he shares his inspirational story, dropping pearls of wisdom along the way.
This is a conversation about the type of motivation that breeds success, and where it comes from.
It’s also a conversation about fairness in sport. And in life. Inspired early in life by Ludwig Gutmann – founder of the Paralympic Games – David learnt the importance of equitable environments. His life’s work in sports medicine and the use of therapeutic drugs to level the playing field in sport is clear evidence of that.
But more than anything else, this is a conversation about values. Raised by working-class parents in the 1950s, David grew up learning the importance of knowing where you come from and the power of unconditional familial support.
David is a thoughtful and kind man and I love this conversation.