News & Updates

15 March 2023 • Track and Field

Tribute to esteemed athletics coach Russ Hoggard

Russ Hoggard coached for more than 60 years with New Zealand 400m hurdles record-holder Portia Bing one of the many athletes he guided to success. Credit (Alisha Lovrich).

Auckland-based coach Russ Hoggard passed away last night in his sleep. He was aged 93 and attended his final coaching session the previous Sunday.

Russ entered athletics in the 1950s, when in his mid-20s, after years as a national cycling medallist.  He joined Western Suburbs club and represented Auckland as a sprinter. He reached the National 440yards final in 1956 in Christchurch.

He began coaching soon after and in 1958 was approached by Beverly Weigel, formerly coached by Yvette Williams’ coach Jim Bellwood, who was no longer accessible. Beverly was seventh 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 coach to New Zealand Commonwealth Games and Oceania World Cup teams and spent some time in Germany working with leading hurdles coaches. 

His last international athlete was New Zealand 400m hurdles record-holder 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 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

***Thank you to Dave Norris for the obituary