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Peter Snell

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Birth name  Peter George Snell
Event(s)  800 m, 1500 m
Weight  80 kg
Sport  Athletics
Height  1.79 m

Residence  Texas, United States
Role  Olympic athlete
Nationality  New Zealander
Name  Peter Snell
Coached by  Arthur Lydiard
Peter Snell Peter Snell Rome 1960 Olympic and Commonwealth games
Born  17 December 1938 (age 77) (1938-12-17) Opunake, Taranaki
Personal best(s)  800 metres: 1:44.3 (NR) 1500 metres: 3:37.6 Mile: 3:54.03
Education  University of California, Davis, Mount Albert Grammar School, Washington State University
Olympic medals  Athletics at the 1964 Summer Olympics – Men's 800 metres
Similar People  Roger Moens, Wilson Kiprugut, Josef Odlozil, Willie Apiata

Peter snell athlete 1964

Sir Peter George Snell (born 17 December 1938) is a New Zealand former middle-distance runner. He won three Olympic gold medals, and is the only male since 1920 to win the 800 and 1500 metres at the same Olympics, in 1964.


Peter Snell Athlete profile for Peter Snell iaaforg

Snell had one of the shortest careers of world-famous international sportsmen, yet achieved so much that he was voted New Zealand’s "Sports Champion of the (20th) Century" and was one of 24 inaugural members of the International Association of Athletics Federations Hall Of Fame named in 2012. A protégé of the New Zealand athletics coach Arthur Lydiard, Snell is known for the three Olympic and two Commonwealth Games gold medals he won, and the several world records he set.

Peter Snell New Zealand39s knights of running share stage Stuffconz

Mens 800m and 1500m tokyo 1964 highlights peter snell documentary

Early athletic career

Peter Snell Peter Snell Athlete Television NZ On Screen

Born in Opunake, Snell moved with his family to Waikato in 1949 where he attended Te Aroha College and became an all-around sportsman. He won several middle-distance running events in his hometown of Te Aroha, although some members of his new school lived in Ngaruawahia. He attended Mount Albert Grammar School in Auckland, where he took up a wide range of team and individual sports, including rugby union, cricket, tennis, badminton, and golf. As a teenager, Snell excelled in tennis, and pursued the sport through appearances at the Auckland and New Zealand Junior Tennis Championships.

Peter Snell wwwgarycohenrunningcominterviews5Cimages5C

At age 19, Snell was motivated to concentrate seriously on running by the comments of his future coach, Arthur Lydiard, who told him, "Peter, with the sort of speed you've got, if you do the endurance training, you could be one of our best middle-distance runners." During his early career under the tutelage of Lydiard, he started with New Zealand titles and records for 880 yards and the mile and, being an unusually large (by track standards) and powerful man, hinted of great things to come.

Olympic success

Peter Snell Peter Snell Biography Peter Snell39s Famous Quotes

He came to international attention when he won the gold medal and set a new national record for 800 m at the Rome Olympics in 1960. He was particularly dominant four years later at the Tokyo Olympics where he won the gold and set a new Olympic record in the 800 metres, and won gold in the 1500 metres.

By winning the 800–1500 metres double, he became the only male to achieve this at the Olympics since 1920, and it has not since been achieved by any male athlete at the Olympics. It was not achieved by a male at an open global championship until Moroccan-born Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain won both golds at the 2005 World Championships in Athletics at Helsinki. (After the 2008 Olympic Games Ramzi was stripped of his Olympic gold medal for doping, but that penalty was not applied retroactively to his World Championship gold medals).

World records

In January 1962 Snell broke the world mile record before a huge crowd at Cooks Gardens in Whanganui, and one week later set new world records for both the 800 m and 880 yd at Christchurch. He then won gold and set a new record for 880 yd at the Commonwealth Games in Perth in 1962, and won gold for the mile at those same games. In all, Snell set five individual world records and joined with fellow New Zealand athletes to set a new four by one mile relay record as well.

Snell's former world records of 1 minute 44.3 seconds for 800 m, set on 3 February 1962, and 2 minutes 16.6 seconds for 1000 m set on 12 November 1964, remain the New Zealand national records for these distances. His 800 m record remains the fastest ever run over that distance on a grass track, and is also the oldest national record recognized by the IAAF for a standard track and field event. The 800 m record also remains the official Oceania continental area record.

Fatigued after his Olympic buildup and second world mile record in 1964, his final track season in 1965 was characterized by a string of losses to such athletes as Olympic 1500 m silver medalist Josef Odlozil, Olympic 800 m silver medalist Bill Crothers, U.S. high schooler and future world record holder Jim Ryun, and American Jim Grelle. Snell then announced his retirement.

Career after retirement from sport

Snell worked for a tobacco company before moving to the United States of America in 1971 to further his education. He gained a B.S. in human performance from the University of California, Davis, and then a Ph.D. in exercise physiology from Washington State University. He joined University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas as a research fellow in 1981. He is associate professor, Department of Internal Medicine and also director of their Human Performance Center. A member of the American College of Sports Medicine, Snell was honoured in 1999 as an Inaugural Inductee, International Scholar, into the Athlete Hall of Fame, University of Rhode Island.

Adopting a new sport, Snell became an active orienteer and won his category, men aged 65 and older, in the 2003 United States Orienteering Championship. He is a past president of the North Texas Orienteering Association and a member of the United States Orienteering Federation.

Snell has become a competitive table tennis player including competing in Texas state (finishing in the top 4 in the 75+ age category) and US championship events and also the 2017 World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand.

Commemorations and awards

Following his success at the Perth Commonwealth Games in 1962, Snell was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services in the field of athletics in the 1962 Queen's Birthday Honours. Three years later he was elevated to Officer of the same order in the 1965 New Year Honours. In the 2002 New Year Honours he was appointed a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sport, and in 2009, following the restoration of titular honours by the New Zealand government, he was redesignated as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and invested by the Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Anand Satyanand.

Snell was one of five Olympic athletes from New Zealand featured on a series of commemorative postage stamps issued in August 2004 to commemorate the 2004 Olympic Games. The two dollar stamp issued by New Zealand Post features a stylized photo of Snell snapping the tape at the finish line of the 800 metres race at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

He was selected by Track and Field News' as their "Athlete of the '60's" and was pictured on the cover of the December 1969 issue.

In 2007 he was awarded an honorary doctorate (DSc) by Massey University in recognition of his work as an exercise physiologist.

A larger than life-size bronze statue of Peter Snell was erected in his hometown of Opunake, Taranaki, and was unveiled on 19 May 2007. The statue is based on a photo of Snell crossing the finish line in the historic race at Wanganui's Cook's Gardens in 1962. A similar bronze statue of Snell was unveiled in Cook's Gardens on 15 August 2009 to commemorate his athletic achievements.

Interviewed by the Wanganui Chronicle after the unveiling, Snell said he was internationally known as a miler, but he had never reached his potential over the mile and the 800 metres was probably his best distance. He said his greatest effort was the world 800m/880yard double record set on Lancaster Park a few days after his new mile record, with an 800m time that would have won the gold medal 46 years later at the Beijing Olympics.

Honorific eponyms

In 2001, Macleans College in Auckland created Snell House as part of its "whanau house" system.

The Peter Snell Youth Village, on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, in North Auckland, New Zealand, is also named after him. They run holiday camps for young people.

Snell Drive, in the Hamilton suburb of Chartwell, is named in Snell's honour.


Peter Snell Wikipedia