The godfather of Hawke's Bay/Poverty Bay athletics was farewelled by 400 people at Sacred Heart Church yesterday in Hastings.

Allan Potts, 79, lost his battle with bone cancer last week but his legacy lives on.

He coached a stable of elite athletes including his late wife Sylvia Potts, who competed at the 1968 Mexico Games and two Commonwealth Games.

He also coached elder son Richard to two Commonwealth Games (1990 and 1994).

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While he was the national track-and-field section at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and a national selector for two decades until 1994, he also coached extensively at grass roots level.

Long-time family friend Peter Richards told the congregation Mr Potts coached his whole life and was a constant talent scout.

"He was a very talented and humble man, but passionate, by God he was passionate," he said. "He was one of life's great characters and one of Hawke's Bay's greatest servants of sports."

Mr Potts coached Scott Newman in the mid-80s and the two became friends.

"His world was people and athletics, not things," Mr Newman said. "His time was not his alone and he was still coaching a large group of athletes up until last year."

In 1998 Mr Potts was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit together with Sylvia, who died in 1999. That was just one of many awards he received over the years. He was also the recipient of a new garden, thanks to the TV programme Mucking In and a grateful community.

Mr Newman closed his eulogy with a message from Mr Potts' sons, Richard and Nick.

"Dad you have come around that final bend, running on your toes and thinking tall, with your arms at 90 degrees and your hands going nose to hip, unleashing your final sprint.

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"Like you have told us all before, make sure you run right through that finish line.

"And at long last you have caught up with Mum. Say hi from us. God speed, we all love you Dad."