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Sir Peter Snell has been announced as the new Patron of Athletics New Zealand. The position was confirmed at the Athletics New Zealand AGM on Saturday 03 August.
The role of Athletics New Zealand Patron has been vacant since the passing of Arthur Eustace QSO in April 2018. “Arthur was one of our most distinguished members and it was important that his successor have a genuine connection and mana within our sport,” said Athletics New Zealand Chief Executive Pete Pfitzinger. “Sir Peter Snell is a sporting icon in New Zealand and in athletics internationally, and we are honoured that he has accepted the role of Patron of Athletics New Zealand.”
Born in Opunake, Taranaki, Sir Peter Snell started his athletics career at Owairaka Athletics Club in Auckland after a friend introduced him to a local athletics coach called Arthur Lydiard. He became a member of Lydiard’s revolutionary training squad – a powerful group of top-class athletes led by Sir Murray Halberg. At 21 years of age he became a household name after winning gold in the 800m at the 1960 Rome Olympics.
Sir Peter Snell set at least six world records, including three in one week in 1962 when he ran a 3:54.4 mile world record in front of a huge crowd in Whanganui, and one week later smashed the world records for the 880 yards and 800m in Christchurch. His 800m best time of 1:44.3 from that historic week still stands as a New Zealand record some 57 years later. Along with his Olympic gold in Rome, Sir Peter Snell secured two more gold medals at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in the 800m and 1500m, the only male athlete since 1920 to win both events at the same Olympics.
After retiring from competitive running in 1965, Sir Peter moved to the United States in the 1970s to pursue a successful academic career in exercise physiology, where he still resides. Made an MBE in 1962 and OBE three years later, in 2009 he was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM).
“Much work has been done to remove barriers to athletes that were present when I was competing,” said Sir Peter Snell. “As Patron I believe that Athletics New Zealand’s role is to serve everyone who takes part in our sport and I look forward to supporting the Athletics New Zealand community.”