Anne Audain, New Zealand’s most successful road runner | Scratched: Aotearoa’s Lost Sporting Legends


I knew my male peers were already getting under the table payments for racing. I didn’t begrudge them in the least, but if I ever got the chance to earn money out of running, I was gonna take it too. [Announcer] Anne Audain, from New Zealand, wins a big one, worth $10,000. So I crossed the finish line,
I get a cheque for $10,000, immediate international ban from the sport, the New Zealand Athletic Federation wasn’t gonna let us run at all. I was born with bone deformities of both my feet, and as I started to walk, my parents noticed that I wasn’t walking correctly. When they did the surgery, it caused me so much pain, but I think those doctors gave me a gift. Obviously, I got the genetic gift, but I think they gave me a running style that was perfect. One year after I had gone through all the rehab with the surgery, I joined the Ōtāhuhu Athletic Club. Started doing the 100 metres, and the 200 metres, and just found I just loved to run, and then I started running cross-country. Won the first cross-country race that I ran, and people just started saying, well, this girl could have some talent. When I was 12, my sisters and I moved to the Ōtāhuhu Athletic Club where Gordon Pirie was training, Anne Garrett as she was then, was already running there, she was already a very good runner. Gordon was very good at spotting talent, and so children came from all over Auckland to the Ōtāhuhu club. He was, had a training style that certainly pitted us all against one another, and tried to pit me against the boys to make them inferior, and that could have worked very much against me, but it actually worked for me, because I just became so determined to prove him wrong. There was never a plan. So we would turn up each day and not know what we were going to do. It would just come out of his head on any given day, and if he was in a bad mood, we’d do three hard days in a row. It was really difficult for some of the other athletes to keep up with that. The training was really hard, and Gordon was always very outspoken, often inappropriately, and that used to upset some of the parents. A lot of other parents had taken their kids away. He was very abusive to my parents, and they wanted me to leave him, and then finally I just said, where else am I going to go? I just didn’t know, I was young, I was just a teenager, and I just wanted to run, and I loved running and I wanted to be good. I just saw no other option at that point. I get to the Olympic Games, where there’s another 160-odd countries and
all the Eastern Bloc women, who were not clean, and so I get there and I run a New Zealand record in the 1500 metres, and don’t get past the first round, so you pick up and you come back to New Zealand and what on earth happened? And it’s like, well, I pretty much ran the best I’ve ever run, but on the world stage, that wasn’t good enough. I flew to Europe and met up
with Gordon in Oslo, Norway, and I thought that he was
coaching with a whole group there and that he was, there
would be housing for me too, but when I arrived, I
found out that it was a little cabin in the woods
and it was just me and him. He took away my passport and said he was doing it for security and he hammered me about what I was eating and drinking and I was putting on weight, and it was just a really, really abusive situation. Finally, we went to Holland
and I lined up for the race, and I finished last, and I
ran off and I was distressed, and ran into the men’s bathroom
instead of the women’s, and just got to the point
where that’s it, I’m done. And we went to the Amsterdam airport, and he said, “I’ll see you back in New Zealand”, and I said “No, you won’t.” The emotional wrench to actually leave Gordon Pirie was huge and Anne went through that, I actually left him as well and went through that, so I completely understand Anne’s feelings about it. [Interviewer] Did you speak to him again after that? No, I didn’t speak to him again. He did try to harass me, he would come outside my in-laws home in One Tree Hill and park outside, and try to put notes in the
mailbox for a long time, but I never responded. We are entering the sheltered harbour of Mātiatia gateway to Waiheke island. Towards the end of 1980 John Davies became my second coach. That’s when all the
stories were being told about the United States allowing women to run the marathons. The guys, Rod Dixon and Dick Quax, had already been running the road races there, so John was like “Annie, I think you’re
gonna find your niche.” I knew my male peers were already getting under the table payments for racing. I didn’t begrudge them in the least, but if I ever got the chance
to earn money out of running I was gonna take it too. I was working for Nike when
Annie ran the Cascade Runoff. So I was in the US and
there was a lot of talk of prize money and the
effect it was gonna have on the athletes as far
as their amateur status. Phil Knight, with Nike, was
going to push for the sport to become professional
because he obviously wanted all the runners that were
using his running shoes to be able to be sponsored
and promote the shoes, and it was totally illegal
for us to be getting any money in the sport whatsoever. So he was gonna put up some money for a road race in Portland, Oregon, where Nike is based. – [Radio Announcer] Welcome
to the fourth annual Cascade Runoff, right
here in downtown Portland. So I looked at the field, and I’m like, I’m signing, I’m going for it. And I was running out of money, I’m running to the top of this sucker as hard as I can, and hope they don’t catch me on the way down. I knew that if I accepted money, that was illegal, but I didn’t think I was gonna win, you know, I thought there’d be a few people ahead of me that would get the consequences before me. – [Announcer] Anne Audain, from New Zealand, has led the women’s competition from the beginning of this race, and today she wins a
big one, worth $10,000. So I crossed the finish line,
I get a cheque for $10,000, immediate international ban from the sport, and New Zealand Amateur Athletic Federation was not happy. When this was going on in the States, it was very well known
here what was happening. Some people were for it and
some people were against it, the girls receiving money for racing. – [Interviewer] What was your? – Absolutely, take that money. They deserved it. – Coming back to New Zealand
was difficult because the New Zealand athletic federation wasn’t gonna let us run at all. We went down to the New Zealand federation and we basically said, “You know, if we don’t sort this out, “I will never run for New Zealand again. “I’m going to the States and
the States will have me.” And so that’s when John
Davies came up with the idea of me trying for the
world 5,000 metre record, all right, John, if that’s what you think, you think I can break the world record? He goes “Yeah, I think you can.” – [Announcer] 50 metres
to go for Anne Audain. – [Anne] So, at Mount Smart stadium, I broke the world 5,000 metre record the first time I ever raced the distance. – [Announcer] A world
record for Anne Audain. – The record wasn’t acknowledged by the New Zealand athletics federation because I was considered a banned athlete. I went back to the United
States after the world record and just went on a rampage that year where I won every single road race. I went on a winning spree
and broke a course record every single race. People were just going, “Good Lord, this gal can really run.” I signed my first Nike contract. (upbeat music) I believe I was the first woman to sign an official, professional deal with Nike. – Just to see someone that
I’d trained with succeeding on the world stage was just amazing. I believe she was the first woman to ever be sponsored by Pepsi. – Not to mention getting
the prize money as well, for these races, and
that’s when John Davies starts saying to me “You
need to come to Brisbane, “to the Commonwealth Games.” And I’m going “No, I’m not doing it, “I don’t wanna run track any more, “I’m done, I wanna stay on the roads. “No, John, I’m not coming.” He goes “Annie, I think you can be “the first New Zealand woman
to win a track gold medal.” And I said “And oh, by the way, John, “I’m still a banned athlete.” I flew down to Brisbane, it was like, “Really, John? You got
this all worked out?” So the ban was lifted with a week to go. – The IAAF and Olympic Committee knew that if they didn’t,
if they didn’t change, there would be a lot of empty lanes in some of those races. – And so John’s just convinced
that I can win a gold medal. He goes “You gotta promise me, “you’re not gonna lead the race today. “There’s some great runners in
this race, it’s really windy, “you got a really good
kick, just wait it out.” I go “Okay John, I promise.” So I take off really fast, I
come around the first bend, and I’m like, oh Lord, I’m in front. At that point it was like,
well, to hell with this. I’m going for it. – [Announcer] Wendy Smith
has gone out to shout upon the wind again, and now
she’s gonna ask the question of Anne Audain, and the New Zealand girl is gonna have to dig deep to win this one. – What I loved watching in that last lap, is how the English girl
comes up on her shoulder and she looks like she’s going past Anne with about 300 metres to go. And you just see Anne put her head down, and just dig in, and dig in so hard, and it’s just, it’s
just one of those races that you remember forever
because it was so courageous. – [Announcer] Wendy Smith is
trying, Audain is responding, Wendy Smith is going to pieces,
she’s all over the place, Audain is really going! (crowd cheering) So this gutsy 26-year-old New Zealander, is out in the lead, and she’s slashed the Commonwealth Games record! – [Interviewer] How does this victory rate in terms of your career, you know, you held the 5,000 world
record for a while, you’ve had incredible success
on the road in the States, how does this race rate
all in amongst that? – I guess it’s just capped off probably the best year of my career. (crowd cheering) To me, that was 13 years of a
whole bunch of ups and downs. I could have ended my career right then. I felt like I’d done
everything I needed to do, to prove that I was a good athlete. World record, gold medal, and all those wins in the United States, I could have retired on that. If I had been an American, I think not only would I really have made it in America, but my whole story would probably have been a movie in America, because I never really came back to New Zealand to have the experience of being a gold medalist and living here, I lost the opportunity for my story to be really told.


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