Barbara Kendall launches book after five Olympics

Barbara Kendall (NZL) and Marina Alabau (ESP) 2008 Olympics - before the start of the RS:X Womens - Medal Race

Barbara Kendall is one of New Zealand's most-loved sportspeople and just this year she competed in her fifth Olympic games and finished an astounding sixth - despite a bronchial infection.

Qingdao Olympic Regatta 2008. RS:X. Barbara Kendall (NZL).
Her older sister Wendy has written a book about Barbara's life called Wind Driven. While they have lived very different lives, the two have always been very close, making Wendy the obvious choice to write the book.

'She would write her diary and I'd write mine, then I'd go hers is way better, so then I'd copy it,' Barbara recalls. 'So I thought if anyone's going to do the book justice, then she would because she's lived it.'

According to her family, Barbara's desire to win was innate and she hated losing.

'I think that was one of the other entertaining things is that Bab was this chameleon of emotion,' Wendy says. 'She was either super exuberant and racing around, or she was bawling her eyes out and having a tantrum.'

Sibling rivalry has kick-started many a sporting career and for Barbara, family support built hers.

'For me it was instrumental in my success,' she explains. 'Maybe I haven't acknowledged it as much as I should over the years, but Bruce was the reason why I've been so good. Because if your brother can do it, you can do it.'

Bruce Kendall was a windsurfing Olympic and world champion, as well as a path maker in the sport in New Zealand. He took off overseas to compete when Barbara was just 14.

'It took quite a while before Barbara and Wendy decided to really have a go at windsurfing,' Bruce says. 'I was encouraging Barbara early on, but she was like 'nah, nah, Ii like my sailing.' She was in P class.'

Most New Zealander's see Barbara Kendall as bubbly and confident, however there were many lows - especially after big competitions like the Olympics.'

Barbara Kendall - 2008 Olympic Regatta - Day 8 -RS:X

In 1997, a year after her silver medal winning performance in Atlanta, Barbara succumbed to another bout of depression. This one proved harder to come out of and even a Halberg Award won the year before for best sportswoman, could not hold back the waves of negative thoughts.

However others rallied around her and being the fighter that she is, Barbara recovered.

But three years later in Sydney, her frustration returned.

'I was made to feel like I'd failed winning bronze,' she says. 'It was a bit better but it was still, 'how come you didn't win gold.' At least now they say 'oh my gosh you've won a medal.' That's fantastic.'

Writing the book made Wendy appreciate what her siblings have achieved and how hard they had to work to succeed.

And who knows, Barbara might make it to London in 2012.

To see the video of this news item from TV3!click_here

Barbara Kendall, silver medalist in the 2008 World Championships in the RS:X class, has won three Olympic boardsailing medals and will sailing in her fifth Olympic Games.
Richard de Jonge ©