Norman Read


13 August 1931


Race walking


Taranaki Race Walking Club

Norman Read, the 1956 Olympic 50km walk gold medallist, was a popular winner in Melbourne and remained a popular figure in New Zealand athletics, right up to his sudden death in May 1994.

He was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, later being evacuated to Steyning, Sussex during the war and moved to New Zealand in 1953. 

He took up walking in England as he said it was common in the area of Sussex. He won a number of English titles. After attending the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, he decided to move to New Zealand.

He soon established himself as the top walker in the country, winning the inaugural New Zealand 20km and 50km titles in 1956. Also in 1956, he won the Australian 50km walk title in a bid to make the Melbourne Olympic selection. He won it in 4:30:00, breaking the Australian record by 20 seconds.

Read sent his performances back to Britain in the hope that he may gain selection for the British team. But they had already selected their three walkers ...