Although credited as New Zealand’s first ever Olympic champion, the aptly named Malcolm Champion originally hailed from Norfolk Island. The tiny Australian dependency is home to to about 2,000 inhabitants, many of whom are descendants of the Bounty mutineers who were relocated from Pitcairn. As a teenager he moved to New Zealand, where he quickly became the country’s top swimmer. Despite a five-year suspension for professionalism, Champion won 31 national titles in events ranging from 100 yards to 1 mile. Champion travelled to Europe twice, once for the 1911 Festival of the Empire (an early forerunner of the Commonwealth Games), and once for the 1912 Olympics. After carrying the Australasian flag at the opening ceremony, Champion failed to finish the final of the 1500 m freestyle. But with three Australian teammates, he successfully held off the strong U.S. team to win the gold medal in the 4 x 200 m relay. After retirement, Champion became a coach, leading several swimmers to national titles, including his own daughter, Edna.
Date of birth also seen as 1 November 1884. Year of death also seen as 1938; 1939 aged 55 is from official death records.