New Zealand Cycling Icon Honoured
Cycling is a sport based on passion and commitment and yesterday’s recognition of Bert McConnell as a BikeNZ Road & Track life member celebrated both of these attributes.
Auckland’s Bert has been to a staggering 71 world championship events and been an ardent fan, supporter and promoter of cycling for almost all of his life. As Graham Sycamore, a BRT life member from Southland aptly put it, this recognition for Bert is long overdue.
Bert was thrilled to be awarded Life Membership at a ceremony in Auckland yesterday. “It was a very good event. I am honoured to have been awarded this. A lot of people travelled a long way to celebrate this with me so it was very special.”
The ceremony was attended by many of the legends of NZ cycling over the past 50 years, with current world champion Warrick Dalton making a touching speech. He described how Bert supported him when he first started cycling and has been there supporting cycling all through his career right up to today.
In 2007 Bert received the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to cycling. In 2008 Bert was recognised with the Malayan Cup, the highest honour that BikeNZ Road and Track offers for service to cycling. Dalton was part of the team that originally won the Malayan cup and presented it to Cycling NZ for their use. Dalton thought it was extremely fitting that a Cup he had a part in winning should also then end up being presented as an award to Bert for his services to cycling, completing the circle.
BikeNZ CEO Kieran Turner commented on Bert’s life membership, “the sport of cycling is built on the contributions of the many passionate volunteers around the country. Bert exemplifies this passion and it was a real pleasure to see him inducted as a Life Member of BikeNZ Road and Track in recognition of what can only be described as an outstanding contribution to our sport.”
Bert joins an array of other influential cycling enthusiasts in the BRT life membership ranks including international UCI Commissaire Graham Sycamore, and ex national coach Ron Cheatley.
The nomination for Bert’s life membership came from Cycling Southland, who believed that there was no question about Bert’s outstanding contribution to the sport. At an international level he has been the face of New Zealand cycling for longer than any other individual. Bert has also served as the voluntary historian for the sport for the last 63 years; as a result of his dedicated efforts he has the most comprehensive collection of cycling memorabilia in the country.
Bert’s final contribution to the sport will be the donation of all of the cycling memorabilia that he has collected and archived back to the cycling community. The years of history is being shipped to the Invercargill velodrome to create a museum of cycling history for all to share.
Above: Bert McConnell receiving his BikeNZ Road & Track Life Membership Certificate from Garry Bell, BRT President.