- 07 November 2008 | Windsurfing
Barbara Kendall is the best known and most successful windsurfer in New Zealand history having competed in her fifth Olympics this year.
It’s incredible that she’s still competing, at top international level, when most of her competitors are in their 20s. It’s a harsh environment, and a gruelling physical challenge.
Her years of experience in racing, tactics, knowledge about wind and tide conditions,equipment and board handling skills play a big part in her success. But the most important factor of all is her desire to win.
Managing the psychology of winning has been the most challenging aspect of staying at the top. A campaign for an Olympic Games takes Barbara at least three years.
She keeps her fitness up by running, swimming, yoga,working out at the gym and windsurfing every day she can.She competes in numerous windsurfing events to keep her world ranking up as well as maintaining a media presence for her sponsors.
She now has two young children to care for as well. Barbara travels around the country to give motivational speaking presentations to earn a living,works for her sponsors,or heads back overseas to meet with the Athlete’s Commission of the International Olympic Committee for a few days.
As soon as windsurfing became an Olympic sport for women, Barbara took the opportunity to join her gold medallist brother, Bruce, by winning the gold in Barcelona in 1992, making her the first woman in NZ to do so in 40 years.
She went on to win silver at Atlanta in 1996, bronze at Sydney in 2000 and was New Zealand’s best in Athens in 2004 with a fifth placing.She won NZ Sportswoman of the year in 1996, 1998 and 1999; Yachtsperson of the year in 1992 and 1998;and has been awarded a MBE in 1992 for services to windsurfing.
Written by Barbara’s sister Wendy, this is the inspiring story of how Barbara, a role model for all New Zealanders, got to the top and how she manages to stay there.
Wendy Kinney-Kendall is Barbara’s older sister and was a competitive wind surfer herself. Like Barbara,she began racing small yachts at a young age.The two sisters dominated the girls’ competitions, becoming the Auckland and national female champions for several years in a row before progressing into windsurfing.
‘We all competed at international level with windsurfing. Unlike my siblings, I didn’t have a competitive drive, and didn’t like being in the limelight. I didn’t enjoy some of the gruelling aspects of competing and travelling, and wanted to do a whole raft of other things,including raise a family,’ says Wendy.
Although Wendy enjoyed windsurfing and sailing, music and dance were her true passion.
After leaving school she began an apprenticeship in Photolithography but continued to compete internationally in windsurfing. In 1987 Wendy ran away with the circus as a dancer and elephant rider with 5 other girls from NZ,touring with the Chipperfields circus around Indonesia for four months.
She returned to NZ to complete her apprenticeship and won the top apprentice award in New Zealand later that year, 1987. At the age of 24, she retired from windsurfing competition and focussed on photolithography.
Wendy now lives on Waiheke Island with her family.