News & Updates

14 December 2019 • General

The Loss of an Icon: Sir Peter Snell Dies Aged 80

New Zealand sporting icon Sir Peter Snell has passed away aged 80.

Named New Zealand’s Sports Champion of the 20th Century, perhaps no athlete in the history of Kiwi athletics holds quite the same reverential status as middle-distance icon Sir Peter Snell.

A three-time Olympic gold medallist, double Commonwealth champion and six-time world record breaker, his achievements under the revolutionary training methods of Arthur Lydiard formed the centrepiece of a golden era of New Zealand endurance running.

Athletics New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Pfitzinger said Sir Peter was a true icon and inspiration, who leaves behind a huge legacy.

“On behalf of Athletics New Zealand I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Sir Peter’s family and friends, and to everyone like me who lost a hero today. He will be greatly missed by many,” said Peter. “His achievements on the track are such a huge part of New Zealand’s sporting history and he will continue to inspire generations to come.”

After Sir Peter retired from athletics at the age of 26, he studied in the USA where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a PhD. He went on to carve out a career as a world-renowned exercise physiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

In 1990 he was the first person to be inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and in 2009 he was re-designated a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In 2012 he was one of 24 inaugural members inducted into the IAAF (World Athletics) Hall of Fame. He became patron of Athletics New Zealand in August this year.

Available for Interview:

  • Peter Pfitzinger, Athletics New Zealand Chief Executive, 021 900 422
  • Cameron Taylor, Athletics New Zealand Board Chair, 021 376 125