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Issue No. 413 May 2017

Winning return to the pool

Gail Jonson with her WMG medal haul.

More than 30 years after retiring from competitive swimming, Gail Jonson returned to the pool – and came home from the World Masters Games (WMG) with six medals, including four gold.

As a teenager Gail, from the Criminal Justice Support Unit at Hamilton, swam for New Zealand at tournaments including the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games.

After retiring at 19 she spent ten years as a police officer, mainly in Hamilton, raised a family and later rejoined Police in a non-constabulary role.

With WMG practically on her doorstep, she could not resist – and for nearly a year put in five or six training sessions a week.

She admits being nervous beforehand – “just ask my Sergeant” – but thinks this helped her performance in the swimming events at the National Aquatic Centre, on Auckland’s North Shore.

“I absolutely loved it,” she says. “It was so well organised, the swimming was fantastic and the facilities were first-class.

“I was impressed by the number of people in all age groups. There was one 95-year-old lady – she was amazing.”

Gail won gold in the 200m Individual Medley, 400m and 800m Freestyle, silver in the 400m Individual Medley and bronze in the 100m Butterfly in the 50-54 age group.

Her other gold came in the team mixed triathlon - but she credits her speedy Hamilton colleague Constable Paul Tierney for winning it for them in the run. “We were second all the way but Paul blitzed it.”

Gail also put in a storming performance at the 2016 Australasian Police and Emergency Services Games, winning all her events.

The next WMG will be in Japan in 2021. “I’ve set up a savings account for that,” says Gail. “I’ve really got the bug.”

Games snippets – next page

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