Athletics Auckland Remembers Russ Hoggard who passed away 14 March
Sad news that Russ Hoggard passed away last night in his sleep. He was 93 and attended his last coaching session the previous Sunday.
Russ entered Athletics in the 1950s, when in his mid 20s, after years as a National cycling medalist. He joined Western Suburbs club and represented Auckland as a sprinter. He reached the National Championships 440yards final in 1956 at Christchurch.
He began coaching soon after and in 1958 was approached by Beverly Weigel, formerly coached by Yvette William’s coach Jim Bellwood, who was no longer accessible. Beverly was 7th in the 1956 Olympics long jump. Russ coached her to the 1960 Olympics and soon had a group of athletes under him.
He continued coaching in Lynndale, Waitemata (now Waitakere) Counties and North Harbour Bays clubs and lost count of the number of Provincial and National representatives he coached over the next 66 years. He was a life member of North Harbour Bays club and given a Merit Award from Athletics NZ in 2010.
He was coach to NZ Commonwealth Games and Oceania World Cup teams and spent some time in Germany working with leading hurdle coaches.
His last International athlete was hurdler and former Heptathlete Portia Bing. His specialty events were hurdles and sprints and he worked closely with horizontal jumper Dave Norris. Norris said he did much of his own sprint work with Russ as a competing athlete, and later their coaching groups often overlapped.
“Russ had an outstanding style, a fun-loving personality who saw the funny side of anything or anyone who had one, and like most successful coaches took a compassionate personal interest in every athlete he coached. He was a taskmaster with a smile and if you shirked you were told about it.”
Over the past few years he was unable to drive, but a roster of some of his former athletes organised him to attend sessions twice a week, that were run by Masters sprinter Tony Catchpole, who was mentored by Russ to take over the squad. But Russ was a useful contributor to each session, right until the last.
In 2018 Russ was awarded a Queens Service Medal for his contribution to coaching.
Russ did not want a funeral so his family will conduct a private ceremony, but a celebration of his life will be organised later. Anyone wanting to be kept in touch about this should email email@example.com