Valdemar “Valdy” Briedis






Christchurch Technical

New Zealand’s most successful coach across all track and field events was an immigrant from Latvia who created national and international medallists on an obscure windswept park in suburban Christchurch. Valdemar Briedis was the mentor of Marise Chamberlain and Valerie Sloper Young, who already have their own “Legends” pages on this site. He also helped create the careers of Barbara Poulsen Beable (shot, pentathlon), Diane Charteris (shot), Lorraine Norris (high jump), Gerry Hack (800m), Joanna Burr Hickman (200/400m), Sally Flynn Mene (javelin), Mene Mene (decathlon), Bev Peterson (sprints), Robin Tait (discus, shot), Lesley Wilson (high jump) and others whose achievements or contributions have been near-legendary. 

The stats are staggering. Briedis (known usually as “Valdy,” but often to younger athletes as “Mr Briedis”) coached the winners of 186 New Zealand championships. The New Zealand teams at every Olympic and Commonwealth Games from 1956 to 1978 included ...