The people behind the Foundation
The Don Oliver Selection Panel
One of the great strengths of ‘The Don Oliver’ has been a combination of a panel of experts of the highest calibre, and the strictly “hands-off” policy that the board leaves selections to this panel.
Originally chaired by one of our founders, Ross Dallow, himself a former top national athlete and international coach, the baton of chairmanship passed to Simon Wickham, for many years the chairman of selectors for all of New Zealand’s Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams. Simon has now retired from our panel and the chair has been assumed by Gael Nagaiya.
Olympian Lauren Boyle our greatest ever female swimmer remains as a selector and Simon has been replaced by double Olympian Matt Dallow, Ross’s son and (like father like son), a former athlete and coach.
This is a team of top performers who know exactly what it takes in terms of talent, character and the “X factor” to make it to the top nationally and internationally.
Who better to identify the future stars from West Auckland?
Gael is a former Silver Fern and Auckland representative who later joined and then headed up the selection panel for the Silver Ferns during one of their most successful periods.
Gael first represented New Zealand in the Under-21 team and followed this up in 1992 with the first of two test caps in the ULK, making against the English Roses when the Kiwis toured the UK.
She was described in netball documents as: “A consistently strong performer for Auckland, rangy in-circle defender, Gael Nagaiya had the distinction of becoming the 100th player to represent the Silver Ferns when selected to tour the UK in 1992.
“Very tall, she was reliable, steady and she excelled as a zone defender.
“Nagaiya’s height and long arms made her an excellent rebounder and a disruptive presence in the opposing shooting circle.”
After playing at the top level at Goal Defence, Goal Keep and Wing Defence, Gael went on to be both a coach and administrator at club level before becoming a Silver Ferns selector in 2011, In 2012 she was appointed the Emerging Talent Selector and a year later, convenor of the Silver Ferns’ selection panel. Her role in both team and emerging talent selection, contributed to the Ferns becoming World Champions in 2019.
Gael is a company director and mother to Bianca – a rising star with the Central Manawa team in the National Netball League (NNL).
Netball is now a fixture in the Commonwealths Games thanks to New Zealand. John Fairhurst, the General Manager Operations, for the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, chose Netball and Triathlon as demonstration sports for those Games.
Lauren Boyle MNZM
Former Don Oliver Scholar, Olympian Lauren Boyle, MNZM, is our greatest ever woman swimmer and at her competitive best, among the world’s best.
Her many achievements include a world short-course record over 1500m freestyle, a silver medal in the 400 free at the 2014 Commonwealths, topped by gold and a new games record in the
She won silver with Penelope Marshall, Amaka Gessler and Natasha Hind in the 4 × 200 freestyle relay at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and bronze with Helen Norfolk, Alison Fitch and Melissa Ingram (a fellow Don Oliver Scholar) in the 4 × 200 m freestyle relay at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
At the London Olympics Lauren was fourth fastest in the 400m freestyle heats setting a New Zealand record. In the 800m heats she qualified fifth fastest for the final where she touched in fourth, setting another New Zealand record, and only a stroke behind the reigning world champion. She retired after the 2016 Olympics, because of persistent injuries
She also had the distinction of matching Danyon Loader in winning three medals at the 1994 FINA World Swimming Championships in Barcelona,
Lauren is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.
Sporting polymath Matt Dallow is a double Winter Olympian, a top-level rugby rep and an international coach in both rugby and athletics. Perhaps that is not surprising given that he’s the son of multi-talented sportsman, policeman and politician, Ross Dallow, one of the founders of ‘The Don Oliver.’
Originally his focus was on the decathlon with performances that earned him a scholarship to the University of Arizona. He graduated with honours in finance, and in sport, winning All-American honours and the decathlon championship in the powerful Pac-10 conference.
He was also a former New Zealand under 17 rugby rep wing and played professional rugby for London’s Harlequins and sevens rugby for the USA. He was offered a professional contract with English club Saracens but was permanently invalided out of the sport when he “blew his knee” for the second time.
He was enticed into bobsledding and was reserve for the four-man team Kiwi team to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, but the injury hoodoo struck again. He broke his leg three weeks before the Games a reserve. Selected for the 2006 Turin Games he competed in the two-man bob-sled despite tearing his Achilles tendon a month before the opening ceremony
Turning to coaching, he’s been a major success in athletics and rugby both here and in the States. From 2003 to 2007, he coached and trained rugby in Phoenix, Arizona. He was also Head of Athlete Performance for RugbyATL in Atlanta, USA, and has coached for the Otago Provincial rugby side and for the Highlanders (where he was known as Cougar presumably for his “bite) In athletics, among many other roles, he has been Performance Coach & Event Group Lead for Athletics New Zealand, in which role he focussed on the throws. This last role was in support of athletes’ personal trainers and coaches nationally as well as undertaking a key role in coach development throughout New Zealand.