Hundreds attend Olympian gold medallist Yvette Corlett's funeral

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of Yvette Corlett, who - as Yvette Williams - was the first New Zealand woman to win an Olympic gold medal in 1952.

Corlett died this month, aged 89, and was described by friends and family as a competitive, but humble woman, just as accomplished in her role of mother as she was an athlete.

To friends and family, Yvette Corlett was simply "our golden girl". She was New Zealand's ninth female Olympian and the first to win gold, leaping 6.29m to long jump glory at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952.

Friend and former Auckland Mayor Les Mills says she was a beacon - proof that almost anything is possible.

"She was an example of goodness, kindness, faithfulness and never-give-up endeavor," he said.

Yvette Corlett in long jump
Yvette Corlett (born Williams) in long jump. Photo credit: Photosport

Brother Roy - a former Commonwealth Games decathlon champion - told how she almost stumbled into athletics as a way of training for netball.

"She said 'what's athletics?'...she'd never heard of it, because they didn't have it at Otago Girls High School."

The rest is history, as Yvette Corlett blazed the trail, and 40 years later, Barbara Kendall drew on her as an inspiration to win our next women's gold.

"She was and it was, you know, her values and her grace and her presence and her tenacity, and she was beautiful," Kendall said.

"If I could be half the role model she was, I would be very happy."

Mourners heard how Corlett was competitive and yet humble - her mantra was patience, perseverance and practice.

She was a woman who kept her gold medals in a shoebox in the bottom of a wardrobe. She was equally adept as a mother of four.

"Aside from all your wonderful sporting achievements, you were the greatest mother that we could have asked for, we will miss you terribly, " son and NZ basketball representative Neville Corlett said.

Corlett's coffin was piped out of the church, before her last leap to her final resting place.