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Legend of the ice . . . Maniototo curling stalwart Peter Becker reflects on his long and rewarding career. PHOTO: ADAM BURNS

ADAM.BURNS

@alliedpress.co.nz

As far as curling goes, no-one has covered the spectrum like Maniototo stalwart Peter Becker.

The long-serving figure has achieved a great deal, not only as one of the sport’s first local hotshots on the ice, but as a coach, selector and administrator.

Becker’s efforts were recently recognised at the Otago Sports Awards, when he won the services to sport award.

“It came as a hell of a shock.

“My youngest son came down from Christchurch. It was a great thrill.”

On presenting the award, his contribution was described as a “lifetime’s worth of work”.

Born into a Maniototo curling family, Becker built up his skills playing on outdoor rinks after he had left high school in 1967.

By 1988 he was part of a “quasi-New Zealand team” which travelled to Melbourne.

Three years later, he skippered the first group of New Zealand curling representatives at the Pacific-Asia Championship in Sagamihara, Japan.

At the 1993 event in Adelaide, Becker led New Zealand to its first international win over Japan, 13-3.

“That was a standout, it was our first international win. I still remember the score as well.”

For Becker, it was not always about curling though.

He has made a significant contribution to rugby in Central Otago, as both a referee and coach.

Becker coached a handful of youngsters at Patearoa’s Paerau School, including the Hore brothers Charlie and Andrew who would go on to play for the Highlanders and All Blacks respectively.

His son, Sean Becker, was the flag-bearer at the 2006 Winter Olympics opening and closing ceremonies as he led the New Zealand men’s curlers at their inaugural Olympic appearance.

His father and coach followed during the ceremonies.

“That was absolutely unbelievable. It’s great for a parent to be in that situation.

“I put the cloak on him. It was a great honour.”

Continuing the tradition have been his children who have further etched the family name into the ice and dominated the national teams.

Alongside Sean and wife Cassie, daughter Bridget and son Scott have also captained New Zealand’s curling team.

A moment their father remembers fondly is when his offspring made New Zealand curling history at the 2010 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Chelyabinsk, Russia.

Coached by Scott, the pair of Bridget and Scott Becker took home a silver medal, the first time a New Zealand team had won a medal at any World Curling Championship.

“World Curling asked me to give them their medals.

“I mean, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Although his children have continued the family tradition of excellence with the stone and broom, Peter’s late wife, Wendy Becker, is remembered as another cornerstone of New Zealand curling – she competed at the top level for many years.

“She had a lot to do with what I’ve achieved as well. She was a great sportswoman in her own right.”

Although the traditional “crampet” style of curling remains synonymous with the Maniototo, Becker was instrumental in the groundwork for the Naseby Indoor Curling Rink which opened in 2006.

“We offered it to Dunedin and Alexandra. But, Naseby said they would take it on.

“I take a lot of satisfaction from that.”