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Veterans of the Arctic Convoys 1941 - 1945

Arch Jelly : HMS Bermuda : My Story

Arch Jelley has been inducted into the New Zealand Athletic Coaches’ Hall of Fame.

Arch, the senior gymnastic champion and feather weight boxing champion in 1939, is best known as the coach of one of the world’s greatest middle distance runners, John Walker, whom he mentored to the world mile record in 1975 (becoming the first man to run the distance in under 3 minutes 50 seconds) and the Olympic 1,500 metre gold medal in Montreal a year later. Walker was also the first man to run 100 sub-four minute miles (he eventually ran the distance 135 times in under four minutes), set a world 2,000 metre record which lasted a decade, won three Commonwealth Games’ medals, was twice named the New Zealand Sportsman of the Year and was voted the New Zealand Sportsman of the 1970s.

Now living in retirement in Titirangi, Auckland, Arch is a retired Normal school principal and graduated with a BA (Hons) Degree in 1971 from the Victoria University of Wellington. Nearing his mid-80s, he still coaches a few athletes, but he has taken up lawn bowls with some success. He is also a keen bridge player and has taught bridge at the local club for more than a decade. He is also interested in genealogy – being a recorder for the McColl clan and the Jelley family.

Arch served in the Second World War, first in New Zealand in the Scottish Regiment and then in the navy when he was posted to England for his preliminary naval training. After being on Arctic convoy duty on board HMS Bermuda, he was commissioned as a Sub Lieutenant RNZNVR and was posted as a Gunnery Officer on coastal submarines. His final naval posting was as 3rd Hand and Navigator on HM Submarine "Vagabond".

He was a keen runner himself – in both cross country events and the track, where he won a number of three and six mile races at centre level and over country where his best performance was in finishing 4th in the New Zealand Cross Country Championships. As well as coaching Walker to international success, Arch was coach of the New Zealand track team to two World Championships, two Olympic Games and one Commonwealth Games. He was also Coach or Chief Coach to three Oceania Teams competing in the World Cup and was appointed Manager of the New Zealand Athletic team to the 1980 Moscow Olympic. This team was then withdrawn on political grounds.

Arch held many administrative positions in track and field at provincial and national level with these including a New Zealand cross country selector (1975-93), the national middle & long distance event Coach (1978-83), New Zealand national middle and long distance advisory coach (1983-87), President of Athletics New Zealand (1996-97) and Ombudsman for Athletics New Zealand (1997-2006). He was awarded the OBE for Services to Sport in 1981


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