| Mervyn Wood |
|Born||30 April 1917|
|Died||19 August 2006 (Age 89)|
|Alma mater||Sydney Boys High School|
Mervyn Thomas Wood was an Australian rower and police officer. He was an eight-time Australian national sculling champion, four-time Olympian and three-time Olympic medalist. He later rose to become the Commissioner of the New South Wales Police Force. His double scull partner at the 1956 Olympics, Murray Riley, was also a police officer. After leaving the force, Riley became an international drug smuggler implicated in the CIA's Nugan Hand Bank.
Early life and career
Wood was the youngest of four children born in Kensington, New South Wales, on 30 April 1917. His father Thomas Wood had emigrated to Australia and entered the Police Force in 1905. Wood grew up in Randwick and attended Sydney Boys High School, graduating in 1934, where he represented his school in rugby union, swimming and most successfully, rowing.
Following high school, Wood became a police cadet and rowed for the New South Wales Police Rowing Club. At the age of 19 years, Wood appeared in his first Olympics. The police senior eight dominated at state and national championships and was selected in toto represent Australia at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
Upon his return, Wood made police constable. After the majority of his crew retired, Wood took up sculling. He worked in the police force in the Criminal Investigation Branch, and in 1944 joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a navigator. He also participated in the 1948,1952 and 1956 Olympics.
Commissioner of Police
Following his retirement from rowing, Wood returned full-time to his post in the New South Wales Police Force, eventually becoming the Commissioner in 1977. His double scull partner at the 1956 Olympics, Murray Riley, was also a police officer. After leaving the force, Riley became an international drug smuggler. Wood's link with Riley and the controversy it generated was a factor in causing him to quit as Commissioner in 1979.
Another factor was a document, allegedly prepared by senior police officers, which was given to a number of politicians, and which alluded to a meeting between Wood and an "illegal casino operator", among other things. The then Premier of New South Wales, Neville Wran, started by backing Wood, stating that it would be strange for a Police Commissioner not to know people in the underworld. Once the document surfaced, however, the public backlash forced Wran to take back his support for Wood.
- Australian Sporting Representatives. shsobu.org.au
- Merv Wood. sports-reference.com
- David Hickie (1985). The Prince and the Premier: The story of Perce Galea, Bob Askin and the others who gave organised crime its start in Australia. Angus & Robertson Publishers. pp. 314–316. ISBN 978-0207151538.