Olympic mile, 800m champ Peter Snell dies at 80
Three-time Olympic champion and world mile record-holder Peter Snell has died in Dallas. He was aged 80.
Wellington : Three-time Olympic champion and world mile record-holder Peter Snell has died in Dallas. He was aged 80.
Snell, who is regarded as one of the greatest middle-distance runners, won the 800 meters at the 1960 Rome Olympics aged 21, and the 800-1,500 double at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
He was the first man since 1920 to win the 800 and 1,500 at the same Olympics. No male athlete has done so since. Snell also won two Commonwealth Games gold medals in the 880 yards and mile at Perth in 1962.
He twice held the mile world record, and held world records in the 800 meters, 880 yards, 1,000 meters, and the 4x1-mile relay.
Snell's death was confirmed by family friend and New Zealand sports historian Ron Palenski, who heads New Zealand's Sport Hall of Fame. "It is very sad news, a grievous loss for New Zealand," Palenski said.
"In terms of track and field, he is probably the greatest athlete New Zealand has had." Snell was coached by Arthur Lydiard, an innovator who was regarded as one of the world's finest coaches of middle and long distance athletes.
Lydiard also coached Murray Halberg to win the 5,000 meters at Rome in 1960.
Snell was the best miler of his generation, at a time when the mile was the blue riband event of world athletics. He began immediately after Roger Bannister's epoch-making sub-four-minute mile and while the glow of that achievement still suffused the sport.
In his physique he was unlike milers of the time: Snell was strong and powerful — more like a 400-meter runner — and not like the mostly lithe athletes who vied for world supremacy
over the mile.