New Zealand honours its Olympic champion

June 1st, 2009 - 4:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Wellington, June 1 (DPA) Veteran Olympic champion John Walker, 56, and an eccentric known as the Wizard of New Zealand were recognised in the country’s Queen’s Birthday honours list released Monday.
The Olympian, who won the 1,500 metres at the Montreal games in 1976, will also become the country’s first knight honoured since the conservative government elected in November restored traditional titles nine years after they were abolished.

Self-confessed oddball Ian Brackenbury Channell, 76, also known as the Wizard of New Zealand, was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community.

The services included casting spells for his province’s rugby team, performing rain dances and entertaining visitors to the South Island city of Christchurch with elaborate orations in the main square, where he has become a one-man tourist attraction.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth remains formal head of state of New Zealand, a former British colony, and honours are awarded twice a year - on her official birthday in June and Jan 1.

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