Martin Paterson Donnelly, a former University of Canterbury student is currently known in the cricketing world as the world’s best present-day left-handed batsman. Donnelly grew up in Waikato, attending New Plymouth Boys’ High School. From a young age his passion and talent for the game of cricket was obvious. The player made his first class debut for Wellington at the age of 19, in a Plunket Shield match against Auckland. Surprisingly, after only one first class match Donnelly was selected for the 1937 New Zealand tour of England. His first international test debut was at Lords before he even reached the age of 21.
After returning to New Zealand, Donnelly moved to Christchurch where he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at UC. Playing for the university as well as Canterbury, he won the Redpath Cup as the best batsman in the Plunket Shield competition in 1939. Not only was Donnelly an exceptional cricketer, he was talented at rugby, playing code for UC as well as the Canterbury Provincial XV and the New Zealand Universities side. Following the completion of his degree, Donnelly enlisted in the army and began serving in 1941 in Africa and Italy. He rose to the rank of major quickly.
After the war, Donnelly continued his achievements, attending Worcester College in Oxford. Over his three years playing for Oxford he scored six centuries and became captain. He also headed the Oxford batting averages every year and this was where he gained his reputation as the best left-handed batsman in the world. Whilst in England, Donnelly continued with his rugby also, playing for the English national rugby side against Ireland in Dublin in 1947.
The former UC student was elevated to the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and died in October 1999, aged 82. One of the four houses at New Plymouth Boys’ High School is named in his honour.
Tim Johnson is another UC sporting legend who has achieved great things. Following a tragic car accident on the day after his 19th birthday, Johnson was left a tetraplegic. In 1998, the wheelchair rugby athlete graduated from the University of Canterbury and Christchurch College of Education with a Batchelor of Engineering with Honours in electrical, electronics and communications engineering. In 1999, he earned a graduate diploma in teaching and learning (secondary) and a Master of Engineering in 2004.
Johnson represented New Zealand from 1998 until 2010 as a part of the wheelchair rugby team. At the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, he and his team won bronze and four years later took gold at the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens. He then represented New Zealand at the 2008 Paralympics as both a player and assistant coach for the team, which placed fifth.
Johnson also collected two silver medals, one at the 1998 world championships in Toronto and the other in 2006 in Christchurch, where he captained the team.
Aside from competing, he plays a significant role as a New Zealand disability sports administrator. Between 2003 and 2004, he served as president of New Zealand Wheelchair Rugby and again from 2011 to 2014. He was also treasurer in 2005 and served as an Athlete Council representative on the New Zealand Olympic Committee since 2003.
He was recognised for his talents and service by UC, being awarded University of Canterbury and New Zealand Universities Blues as well as Queen’s Birthday Honours recently this year. Johnson was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to disability sport.
Johnson is now retired from wheelchair rugby and is a father of three.
Andrea Hewitt is a professional triathlete and a former University of Canterbury student with a Bachelor of Commerce and Economics degree. Hewitt, aged 33, has achieved great results through-out her triathlon career, competing and placing at the ITU Triathlon World Championships, Commonwealth Games, OUT Triathlon Oceania Championships and ASTC Triathlon Asian Championships.
At aged 22, being a well-known swimmer, Hewitt decided to try her luck with triathlons. She immediately won a bronze medal at the New Zealand U23 championships. Following this in autumn 2005, Hewitt won her first U23 World Championships in Gamagori, Japan. After taking part in her first World Cup and placing third, Hewitt went on to win her first World Cup title in Kitzbuhel, Austria in 2007.
A medley of medals and achievements followed for the hardworking athlete. Competing in a variety of different World Championship events across the globe, Hewitt made an impressive name for herself on the world stage. In 2009, Hewitt competed in 7 out of 8 competitions of the Dextro Energy World Championship Series and won a gold, silver and bronze medals, ranking third place overall.
Between 2007 and 2010, Hewitt took part in 15 French Club Championship events and won 7 gold medals, 2 silver and 3 bronze. By 2010 the triathlete was ranked 6th in the World Championship rankings. She represented New Zealand in the Olympics in 2008 and 2012, finishing in the top 10 for both.
Andrea is currently training for the 2015 Rio Olympic Games after meeting the Tri NZ selection criteria back in March. More information about her and her achievements in detail can be found on her website: http://andreahewitt.com/.