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Don Oliver Champion New Zealand weight lifter

The Don Oliver Youth Sport Foundation...
what is it 

'The Don Oliver’ was founded in 1996 to honour the memory of New Zealand champion and Olympic weightlifter, and proud Westie, Don Oliver.


The founders wanted to perpetuate Don's work with young people and established the foundation to provide scholarships for promising young Westie athletes in any sport - who had the results and the x factor that said they could go on to national and even international honours.


The athletes have to be aged between their 14th and 21st birthday and their permanent home must be in the West Auckland area.


The athletes are selected by an independent panel of experts - former tops sports people and leading sports administrators.


History of the Foundation

While Don Oliver’s legendary status is as an Olympian and pioneer in the fitness industry, his work with young people was what inspired Waitakere Sir Bob Harvey, Councillor Ross Dallow MNZM, businessman and philanthropist Bryan Heron MNZM, Olympian and businessman (the late) Chris Timms and lawyer Bernie Allan to established the Don Oliver Youth Sport Foundation in 1997.​

What better memorial to his life's work with young people could there be, they reasoned, than a charitable foundation in his name, to assist promising young athletes?


The Foundation was established with the mission to provide scholarships and other forms of support for pre-elite Waitakere athletes in all codes. To be eligible the youngsters must live and train in Waitakere and have the realistic ability to step up to national and international honours.

Scholarships are tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual. ​

'The Don Oliver'...

a successful formula


There hasn't been a single Olympic or Commonwealth Games team in 17 years without at least one past Don Oliver Scholar.  Most celebrated, are world class swimmers Lauren Boyle and Melissa Ingram.

​Alongside Olympians and Commonwealth Games aspirants, there have also been world champions, national champions - overall, class and age group - Commonwealth champions, scholars to US universities, and people reaching for the top in teams such as football and netball.  Then there is Equestrian, BMX and even motocross and motorcycle track racing.

Every one of them credits 'The Don Oliver' with giving them real assistance. As a result West Auckland "punches above its weight" in terms of young achievers, and those young West Auckland achievers are given assistance from the community that is simply not available in many other towns and cities.

Because 'The Don Oliver" obtains its funding from the West Auckland Community, this is very definitely a case of West Aucklanders helping West Aucklanders. It's called "The Westie Way".

Don Oliver the man
Don Oliver. The man... the legend.

Don Oliver O.B.E
The man...the legend

6th April 1938 - 26 February 1996

Three time Olympian, the late Don Oliver is a legend in New Zealand weightlifting.  He competed for New Zealand at two Commonwealth Games in the 1960s and three Olympic Games – 1960 in Rome; Tokyo 1964 and; in 1968, in Mexico City, where he was flag-bearer for the New Zealand team.

Don Oliver did not medal at an Olympics but was clearly in world class with 12th at Rome, 9th in Tokyo and 8th Mexico.

While not an Olympic Medallist, he medalled twice at the Commonwealth Games, winning Silver at Perth in 1962 and Gold at Jamaica four years later.

He remains the highest placed NZ weightlifter ever, at world championships, having finished 5th in the 1957 event in Tehran, Iran.

On retiring from competition Don Oliver’s name became synonymous with the fitness industry. He created one of the first New Zealand based fitness brands, first with the Don Oliver gyms and from 1977, a range of Don Oliver branded weight training and fitness products, which are exported internationally.

Don Oliver Weighting Champion

Don Oliver... his achievements

  • Twelve times Auckland Heavy Weight Weightlifting Champion.​

  • Ten times consecutively New Zealand Heavyweight Weightlifting Champion

  • Represented New Zealand at three Commonwealth Games, twice as a competitor, once as a coach.

  • Commonwealth Silver Medalist, Perth, Australia 1962

  • Commonwealth Gold Medalist, Kingston, Jamaica 1966

  • Represented New Zealand at three Olympic Games. Rome 1960. Tokyo 1964. Mexico City 1968

  • The only New Zealander to win the first weightlifting division at an Olympics -Tokyo 1964.

  • Highest ever place-getter of any New Zealander at a World Championships, in Teheran, Iran 1957. Placed fifth.

  • The only weightlifter to win the Landsdale Cup, awarded for New Zealand Olympic Sportsperson for the Year.

  • Received the international award, Elite Lifter.

  • The first New Zealander ever from any sport to captain more than one Commonwealth or Olympic Games team.

  • The first New Zealand weightlifter to break the 454.5kg total (weightlifting's equivalent of the four minute mile), eventually achieving a total of 509kg.

  • The first New Zealander to ever lift more than 181kg in the 'Clean and Jerk.'

  • Most weightlifting medals won while coaching in any games: seven medals won with nine lifters, 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games.

  • Broke more than 30 New Zealand and Commonwealth records.

  • Still holds the New Zealand record for the heaviest weight from floor to arms length above head 'the Clean and Jerk' - set defending his tenth New Zealand heavyweight title. His 205kg (452lb) lift broke the New Zealand and Commonwealth record.

  • O.B.E. awarded for services to weightlifting.

  • Patron New Zealand Christian Sports Fellowship.

  • Inaugural Chairman of the Auckland Asthma Society, 1970 - 1973.

  • Patron of the Glen Eden Athletic Club 1994-5.

  • Inaugural Chairman of the New Zealand Federation of Fitness Centres 1988 - 1993

  • Inaugural Chairman of Fitness New Zealand 1993 – 1995

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