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Marc My Words June 25: A Silent Box

Marc My Words. By Marc Alexander MP

A Silent Box

The Olympic Games embody the ideals of physical perfection in performance. It is a four yearly celebration of champions and the best in the achievements of sportsmen and sportswomen - rewarded not just by gold, silver and bronze medals but by the honour of representing their country, and the adulation of many. Whether we like it or not, the Olympics is the world arena in which each country's role models battle it out to strive for supremacy. There is no escaping that those who participate are role models embodying the hopes and aspirations of the countries they represent.

And what role model has New Zealand chosen? Amongst the many deserving hardworking Kiwis who make our Olympic team we have unwittingly bestowed on a baby killer the honour of representing us. Boxer Soulan Pownceby, jailed in 1995, was found guilty of the manslaughter of his own five month old daughter. The sentence of four and a half years was one that falls far short of justice, in my mind.

To those who are willing to forgive Pownceby his crime and see him as someone who has rehabilitated, put his life together and become a model citizen, we should give a cautionary reminder. Since his release from jail, between 1998 and 2000 he has accumulated six convictions for assault which have included assaults on women. Hardly the handiwork of the reformed!

The New Zealand Olympic Committee Secretary-General Barry Maister, after interviewing Pownceby's coaches and manager, considered that he was held in high regard.

I'm wondering whether the public hold him in high regard, considering his crime. I also wonder whether the public are happy to have a convicted child killer represent them for anything, let alone the ultimate international sporting contest.

Some may be content to forgive and forget - but those that do should pause and spare a thought for his baby daughter Jeanette. He certainly does not represent her. Her voice.her future was stubbed out by him and we are all poorer for it.

And if Pownceby goes to the Olympic Games under the sham of representing all that's good about New Zealand, let's hope he spends a portion of his time thinking about the life he took, that of his daughter who lies in an unmarked weather-beaten grave. What medal for her?


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