The IAAF has chosen the occasion of the Athletics New Zealand 125th Annual General Meeting in Hamilton this weekend to announce that New Zealand athletics icon, Sir Peter Snell will be one of twenty four inaugural members of IAAF Hall of Fame.
The announcement from the President of the IAAF Lamine Diack coincides with the start of Athletics at the 30th Olympiad in London and highlights the contribution to the Sport by Snell’s coach, Arthur Lydiard and New Zealand latest Athletics Olympic Gold medallist Valerie Adams.
Diack makes a point of Athletics New Zealand being at the forefront of successful global development in the sport including its transition to the modern professional era and “punching above its weight” in the global athletics scene.
It was on the Olympic stage that Snell made such a name for himself, as the surprise winner of the 800 metres gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Two years later he broke the world records for the 800 metres and Mile. In 1964, at the Tokyo Olympics, he retained his Olympic 800 metres title and also won the 1500 metres title.
Snell, voted New Zealand’s "Sports Champion of the (20th) Century", went on to a distinguished scientific career in the USA and was knighted in 2001.
The Official induction ceremony will be held at the IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona on 24 November.
The official congratulatory message and announcement from the IAAF President Lamine Diack on the 125th anniversary of Athletics NZ follows
Message from Mr Lamine Diack, IAAF President
In the year of the IAAF Centenary it is appropriate to remember that many of the national Member Federations of the International Association of Athletics Federations have a history which extends beyond 1912.
One hundred years ago, New Zealand, who together with Australia, then composed “Australasia”, was one of the 17 founding Member Federations of the “International Amateur Athletics Federation”, but this national athletics federation has a history which stretches back a further 25 years.
In January 2011, I was honoured to become the first President of the IAAF to visit New Zealand, at the start of an extensive tour of the Oceania Area during which I attended the IPC World Athletics Championships in Christchurch and then travelled to Wellington, to visit the offices of Athletics New Zealand. While I was there, I met the patron of Athletics New Zealand, Arthur Eustace, Honorary Life Personal Member of the IAAF, a much respected colleague and friend.
Therefore it seems very fitting, and I am most grateful, that Arthur can deliver this message on my behalf on the occasion of the special dinner which marks the 125th Annual General Meeting of Athletics New Zealand and the federation’s foundation.
Athletics New Zealand has been at the forefront of Athletics’ successful global development including its transition to the modern professional era, leading the campaign to abolish the sport’s amateur rules, in order to make the way for competitors and coaches to get paid.
New Zealand has also produced some of the major icons of our sport from miler Jack Lovelock in the 1930s to the talented shot put champion Valerie Adams in the present era. We should also remember that the country has also produced one of the greatest coaches, Arthur Lydiard.
Athletes wearing the black vest adorned with the silver fern have graced the tracks and infields of the world throughout the history of the IAAF. Given that your population today stands at less than 4.5 million, it is true to say that New Zealand has globally ‘punched above its weight’ in Athletics. I sincerely hope it will continue to do so.
It is therefore with the greatest of pleasure that I take this opportunity to honour the greatest of all New Zealand’s athletes.
As part of the celebrations to mark the Centennial Year of the International Association of Athletics Federations, the IAAF Hall of Fame has been inaugurated to showcase a hundred year of world athletics excellence.
The sport’s world governing body has always known that a Hall of Fame is the right way not only to honour the lifetime achievements of our greatest athletes, but to heighten public awareness of our sport and its rich history.
But while the principle of a Hall of Fame has been part of our Constitution for some time now, we have officially brought it to life in 2012, to coincide with our Centenary but also the latest edition of the summer Olympics. We have a history entwined with the Games. Athletics’ greatest heroes and heroines are largely those of the Olympic Games too.
For this reason, I am pleased to announce that among the inaugural 24 members of the IAAF Hall of Fame will be the greatest “flying kiwi “ of them all, three-time Olympic champion and multiple World Record breaker, Peter Snell.
The Official Induction Ceremony for all 24 inaugural members will take place at the IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona on Saturday 24 November 2012 but at this moment please may I ask you to acknowledge one of the living legends of our sport.
Many congratulations Sir Peter Snell!
Happy 125th birthday, Athletics New Zealand!