Harold Nelson

BORN

1923

DISCIPLINE

Mile, 3 miles, 6 miles and cross country

CLUB

Civil Service, Dunedin Nelson Harriers

Opening day of the 1950 British Empire Games, 5 February, the first track final, six miles, three men still in it at the bell, and the whole crowd on its feet, 40,000 packed all around the track, screaming for the Kiwi. Auckland’s Eden Park was sold out, the sun was shining, and the Opening Ceremony had treated them to a spectacle of marching and music more colourful than anything since the darkness of world war fell in 1939. And now Harold Nelson was leading along the final back straight, the last of twenty-four laps. A resolute Scot, Andrew Forbes, stayed stubbornly near enough to be a danger. Nelson didn’t falter. Short, light-stepping, and light-haired, twenty-six years old, tactically alert, in all black with an outsize silver fern on his chest, Nelson could almost have been Jack Lovelock come back home, alive.

Round the last bend and turning into the straight was like entering a tunnel of fervent patriotic sound, and Nelson responded. He won 30:29.6 to ...

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