Clem Green is truly considered to be the father of Oceania Masters Athletics and the driving force that led to its establishment as the then Oceania Association of Veteran Athletes (OAVA).
During the early years of veterans athletics in New Zealand, Clem and others identified the need for a national coordinating body and in 1971 Clem was appointed the first National Coordinator of this body. He continued in that role until 1983 when the then New Zealand Association of Veteran Athletes (NZAVA) was constituted. Clem was similarly involved in coordinating masters athletics internationally in the early days, first through Association of Veteran Athletes, and then through the more formally constituted World Association of Veteran Athletes (WAVA). In fact it was Clem who proposed WAVA’s name.
In his role with NZAVA and as New Zealand’s representative at WAVA, Clem travelled extensively through the Oceania region for many years and developed many contacts. Through these contacts, his enthusiastic promotion, and his dogged determination he almost single handedly established veterans athletics in the island nations of the region. It was largely through his efforts that the inaugural Oceania Veterans Athletics Championship was conducted in Suva Fiji, followed by championships in Canberra, Australia in 1984 and Apia, Western Samoa in 1986. The coordination of the Oceania masters athletics championships had until this time been undertaken through a loosely formed steering committee. However, at the 1986 Championships in Apia the then Oceania Association of Veteran Athletes (OAVA) was officially formed as an organization with a formal constitution. OAVA gave itself broader responsibilities for the coordination and development for veterans athletics throughout the Oceania region and became the regional link for veterans athletics to WAVA.
Clem was the inaugural secretary/treasurer for OAVA and until 1990 the Oceania representative to WAVA. He was from 1992 until 2010 a very worthy Patron of OAVA.
Clem’s contribution to masters athletics in the Oceania region and in New Zealand was recognized by the award of Life Membership of OAVA in 1990 for particularly meritorious service to the Association’s objects. His service to masters athletics in New Zealand was also recognized by Life Membership of New Zealand Masters Athletics. His contribution to WAVA was similarly recognized in 1991 by his appointment as an Honorary Life Vice-President of the world body. Finally Clem was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal by the NZ Governor General in 1994 for services to sport, in particular masters athletics.
Clem was a good middle distance runner, and the memory of his role in first establishing OMA will live on through the Clem Green 1500m award for the highest age-graded performance in any masters age-group in the 1500m event at an OMA Championship.
Clem died in January 2011 – he was a giant in masters athletics, and the Oceania region lost one of its founding fathers of the sport – he will be missed!