Former NZ hockey Olympian Ackerley dies

Last updated 15:50 03/05/2011
Paul Ackerley
GOLD WINNER: Paul Ackerley (kneeling, far left) alongside his team-mates from the 1976 NZ Olympic hockey team.

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Olympic gold medallist and former New Zealand women's hockey coach Paul Ackerley died today in Wellington aged 61.  

Ackerley, a member of the New Zealand men's hockey team that won gold at the 1976 Montreal Olympics by upsetting Australia 1-0 in the final, died in Wellington Hospital after a short illness.

An inductee into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 as a member of that team, he went on to coach the New Zealand women's hockey team for six years and was in charge when they won the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.

Ackerley, who worked as a coaching and volunteers advisor at Sport and Recreation New Zealand (Sparc), earned 25 caps for his country during an international career that spanned 1974-77.

Sparc chief executive Peter Miskimmin said Ackerley was highly-respected among his colleagues, and in the sport and recreation sector.

"At Sparc we have lost a much-loved colleague and friend, but Paul will also be a tremendous loss to the wider sports community.

"Paul had a lot of sporting success in his life. Not only was he a gold-medal winning Olympian and a high-performance coach, he also managed to use his talents and skills to help develop other coaches.

"Paul was passionate about sport and particularly coaching. Part of the legacy he leaves is a national vision around the importance of coaching and the importance of developing coaches,'' Miskimmin said.

Originally from Ashburton, Ackerley played most of his early hockey in Christchurch for the University of Canterbury Hockey Club.

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