Greatest moments in Otago sport - Number 31

The Otago Daily Times counts down the 150 greatest moments in Otago sport.

No 31: Jenny McDonald named in world hockey team (1980)

Jenny McDonald with stick at the ready. Photo from <i>ODT</i> Files.
Jenny McDonald with stick at the ready. Photo from <i>ODT</i> Files.
How good was Jenny McDonald?

She was simply the best.

Rugby has Colin Meads (and possibly Richie McCaw), cricket has Richard Hadlee, squash has Susan Devoy and football has Wynton Rufer.

Their equivalent in New Zealand women's hockey is McDonald, a long-serving and stunningly successful servant of the game.

McDonald played for the national side - not the Black Sticks, please - from 1971 to 1985, playing 192 matches for New Zealand, including 94 tests.

She was a goal-scorer of rare ability, an outstanding forward who knew how to convert opportunities into goals. Try more than 200 of them while wearing the national colours.

McDonald was raised near Whangarei and settled in Outram, where she worked as a primary school teacher.

She made an immediate impact early in her international career, and was New Zealand's leading scorer at tournaments in 1973 and 1975.

By 1980, McDonald was the New Zealand captain, and the year was to bring both massive disappointment and significant reward.

The decision of the New Zealand team to boycott the Olympic Games in Moscow crushed McDonald and her team-mates, who were widely tipped as medal contenders.

But at least the Otago player's abilities were recognised when she was the only New Zealander named in a President's XI (virtually a World XI) to play the Netherlands the same year.

McDonald captained New Zealand from 1980 to 1985, including at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, where the team finished sixth.

She also guided Otago to K Cup wins in 1976, 1986 and 1987.

McDonald, the principal of Elmgrove School, was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, and became a life member of New Zealand Hockey in 2002. A major secondary schools tournament is named after her.


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