Whangārei athletics coaching maestro Ian Babe has been chosen as the new president of Athletics New Zealand.

Babe, aged 81, was picked to be Athletics NZ's next president at the 131st AGM of the national athletics body in Wellington last weekend.

The well respected coach takes over the reins from Dianne Rodger who completed her 12 month term at the weekend.

Babe officially 'retired' form coaching in 2016, but has returned to coach 13-year-old Parua Bay runner Bella Earl.


After recognising her talent he couldn't resist making sure she got the right coaching to advance and was on hand to see her win her first national title in Wellington at the weekend.

Some of his young charges who have gone on to do extremely well both in New Zealand and overseas include Michelle Prowse, Mary Davies (who Babe refers to as "just a shy girl from Ruakākā") and former Olympic medallist, Commonwealth Games star and ITU World champion Sam Warriner.

Babe's reach extended far beyond athletics and triathlon, however.

His work with the Northland rugby team on many past occasions is well documented.

A former Northland rugby rep himself, his techniques and methods were well beyond their time, yet indeed influenced many North Auckland and Northland teams, and are said to be the underlying force which helped North Auckland go unbeaten in 1977, escape the depths of the provincial competition's Division Two, and then go on to win the Ranfurly Shield in 1978.

Other notable athletes Babe has worked with include New Zealand cricketers Tim Southee and Bryan Young, New Zealand basketballer and netballer Megan Craig, Northland rugby legends David Holwell and Todd Miller, as well as the elusive yet talent-laden Fijian-flyer Rupeni Caucaunibuca.