Cycling official John McDonnell honoured for services to the sport

John McDonnell (Deputy Principal at Cambridge High School) has held nearly every role imaginable at Cycling New Zealand.

A former councillor, board member, international delegate, president and vice president, technical advisor and more, McDonnell has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to cycling.

McDonnell's involvement in cycling began in the late 1960s as a young rider, and in the early '90s he took his first role behind the scenes at Cycling New Zealand.

McDonnell is an accomplished Commissaire of more than 20 years, having been to competitions such as the World Championships, Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games. He has officiated at more than 100 international UCI events.

Although McDonnell is often in the background when New Zealand's top cyclists are seen at the big events, he also holds that job at a local level, helping officiate at youth events every week in his home of Cambridge.

His dedication to sport has earned a place on the New Year's Honours list.

"I certainly didn't see this coming," McDonnell said. "It was actually Gordon Sharrock, a former New Zealand selector and president, he told me I had to make a decision on what I would do after riding.

"He was a man with a lot of wisdom. He said you need to decide what to do, be it coaching or whatever. That's when I decided I wanted to be a Commissaire, to help give back to the sport, really."

Since 1990, when McDonnell became qualified to officiate international events, he has been to more than 100 meets around the globe, including the 2004 Athens Olympics and the recent 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

He says the work at the Avantidrome in Cambridge, where he helps youth riders two or three nights per week, is what he feels especially privileged to do, however.

McDonnell said his family would get a shock when they find out about the honour, and thanked his wife in particular for "putting up with all the time I spend" working in cycling.

Article : Ben Strang
Photo: Jeremy Smith, Fairfax NZ


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