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Lay’s Far-flung Achievements

by Virginia Winder  

Sky High: Kiwi Stan Lay lets a javelin fly into the London sky in 1928. Watching him at right, is British athletics expert Captain F.A.M. Webster Image: Taranaki Stories database
Sky High: Kiwi Stan Lay lets a javelin fly into the London sky in 1928. Watching him at right, is British athletics expert Captain F.A.M. Webster Image: Taranaki Stories database

Tags for this Story

Coach, javelin, official

For 25 years, Stan Lay threw javelins further than anyone in New Zealand.

Few people have managed to compete in the top echelon of their chosen sport for so long. The Taranaki field star also set records that took decades to beat.

Stan retired from top competition after the 1950 Empire Games in Auckland, but continued to appear at athletic meets as coach, official and later patron.

These are some of the achievements earned during his 96-year-long life.


Taranaki Cricket Representative player from 1926-31.
Member of the Taranaki team that won the Hawke Cup in 1926.
Stan played for Taranaki against the 1928 Australian and 1930 MCC teams.


Won the Australasian javelin championship title in 1926 and 1927.
Stan was 7th at the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928 and the first New Zealand thrower to represent New Zealand at the Games.
Won the British javelin championship in London in 1928.
In 1930, he won a gold medal at the inaugural Empire Games in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Took the silver medal at the 1938 Empire Games in Sydney, Australia.
Was 6th at the 1950 Empire Games in Auckland.

NZ Titles

Stan Lay won the New Zealand javelin title on 12 occasions from 1926-50. These are the exact years and distances:

1) 1925-26 with 182 feet (55.47 metres)

2) 1926-27 with 194 feet 6.25 inches (59.29 metres)

3) 1927-28 with 197 feet 8 inches (60.24 metres)

4) 1928-29 with 206 feet 6 inches (62.94 metres)

5) 1929-30 with 199 feet 9.5 inches (60.90 metres)

6) 1933-34 with 192 feet 0.5 inches (58.53 metres)
7) 1934-35 with 187 feet 1 inch (57.02 metres)

8) 1936-37 with 195 feet (59.44 metres)

9) 1938-39 with 197 feet 10 inches (60.30 metres)

10) 1944-45 with 179 feet (54.56 metres)

11) 1945-46 with 184 feet 4.25 inches (56.19 metres)

12) 1949-50 with 166 feet 11 inches (50.88 metres)

Javelin records 

On Boxing Day 1927, he became the first New Zealander to throw the javelin further than 60 metres. That throw of 218 feet 2.75 inches (66.51 metres) was just short of the world record. While it won him the Australasian title, it didn't earn him a record as it was deemed to be a wind-assisted throw.
In 1928, Stan set a British record in London, with a throw of 222 feet 9 inches (67.89 metres). That was a world record, but was already bettered by the time officials went to register it. That British record stood for 29 years.
In 1929 he set a New Zealand and resident record with a throw of 206 feet 6 inches (62.94 metres). That record stood for 27 years.
Stan's 1930 gold-medal-winning throw of 207 feet 1.5 inches (63.13 metres) set an Empire/Commonwealth Games record. That mark stood for 24 years.

Other honours

Carried the New Zealand flag during the opening ceremony of the 1930 Empire Games in Canada.
 At the opening ceremony of the 1950 Empire Games in Auckland, Stan took the Oath of Allegiance to amateur sport on behalf of all the competitors.
In 1978, Stan received a City of New Plymouth Citizens Award.
He was Taranaki Centre patron of the New Zealand Amateur Athletics Association (NZAAA).
Presented medals to the javelin place-getters at the 1986 Commonwealth Games at Edinburgh, Scotland.
He became a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 1987.
Stan was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.
In 2000, Stan was made the official spiritual guardian of the Olympic flame during its journey through New Zealand on its way to the Games in Sydney, Australia.

Life membership

Hawera Athletic Club
Stratford Athletic Club
New Plymouth Athletic Club
Taranaki Centre of NZAAA
West Coast Centre of NZAAA

First published on 18 August 2004




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Peter Snell’s One-track Mind 



Energy City Harriers
PO Box 683
New Plymouth   
Venue: Marist Cricket Club Rooms, Calvert Road
Athletics Hawera Inc 
PO Box 175
Venue: Hicks Park 


Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, to see Stan Lay Drive, which runs from the main gates to the Bellringer Pavilion
King Edward Park, Hawera, to see the Stan Lay Entrance
Yarrow Stadium, Maratahu Street, New Plymouth, to see the brick donation wall

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