Sir John Walker
With a long mane of blond hair, trademark beads and distinctive black singlet, the sight of Sir John Walker destroying the world’s best middle-distance runners is perhaps one of the most iconic images in New Zealand athletics history.
From becoming the first man in history to run a sub-3:50 mile to winning Olympic 1500m gold as well as later becoming the first athlete to post a staggering century of sub-four-minute miles, few athletes hold quite the same stature as the Kiwi middle-distance hero.
Raised one of three children in Manuwera, John was unwittingly honing his future running talent from the age of five.
“I ran the mile to and from the shops to pick up the paper for dad, and thought nothing of it,” adds John, 68. “At the top of the hill there was a dog I was scared of, so I used to run home as fast as I could.”
John’s first taste of formal athletics competition came at Manuwera Normal School, where he quickly established himself as the leading ...