Peter Snell

Birthday: 12/17/38 Mile PR: 3:54.1 - 1964 (former world record)
Metric Mile (1500m) PR: 3:37.6 - 1964
High School: Mt. Albert Grammar, Auckland, NZL
Hometown: Waikato, NZL
College: UC-Davis (B.S.) / Washington State University (Ph.D.)

Peter Snell of New Zealand is a three-time Olympic champion: 800 meters (1960 Rome & 1964 Tokyo) and 1500 meters (1964 Tokyo). Known for his powerful stride and finishing speed, Snell also set the outdoor Mile world record twice: 3:54.4 (1962) and 3:54.1 (1964). In addition, he won the Mile at the 1962 Commonwealth Games.

The Kiwi was coached by the renowned & pioneering Arthur Lydiard who developed several New Zealanders to world class levels including fellow Olympic medalists Murray Halberg (5000m gold, 1960) and John Davies (1500m bronze, 1964).

In 1971, Snell moved to the United States, earning degrees in human performance and exercise physiology, and in 2000, the legend was voted New Zealand’s athlete of the century.

In 2009, he accepted redesignation as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (Sir Peter Snell).

On December 12, 2019, Snell passed away in Dallas, Texas.

DID YOU KNOW?
Snell's first Mile world record of 3:54.4 in Wanganui (Cooks Gardens) on January 27, 1962 was run on a 386-yard grass track, producing the first sub-4 on New Zealand soil, Snell’s first sub-4 and the first & only Mile WR on grass!

His 800m world record of 1:44.3 from 1962 is still New Zealand's national record.

FUN FACT: A statue in his honor stands at Cooks Gardens, Wanganui, near his birthplace of Opunake, site of his 1962 Mile WR.

News

‘The greatest athlete NZ has had’: Famed Olympian Sir Peter Snell has died

December 13, 2019

"He won three Olympic gold medals, two Commonwealth Games gold medals and broke seven world records. He was the best conditioned athlete of his time."

By NZ Herald

Famed New Zealand Olympic distance runner Sir Peter Snell has died, age 80.

Sports historian and friend Ron Palenski confirmed...

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The Mile centerpiece for the inaugural Sir Peter Snell International Meet

February 05, 2019

"We want to reinstate the One Mile Championship name and make this event an annual sanctioned fixture at Cooks Gardens."

By Iain Hyndman, Whanganui Chronicle

The athletics fraternity will finally get to celebrate Whanganui, Sir Peter Snell, Cooks Gardens and what all three bring to the global...

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Peter Snell: Titan of the track

January 31, 2017

“My mental approach was not focusing on the individuals I couldn’t control, but focus on myself. It normally worked out all right.”

By Cameron Tucker, Athletics Weekly

Last year was a record-breaking one in sport for New Zealand. The island nation, renowned for its haka-dancing rugby team,...

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Sir Peter Snell honored by US Sports Academy with Distinguished Service Award

December 11, 2015

Former Mile world record holder and 3-time Olympic champion recognized for outstanding contributions to national or international sport through education, research or service.

From Stuff

Sir Peter Snell has been honoured by the United States Sports Academy with a Distinguished Service Award...

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3 Secrets of Legendary Coach Arthur Lydiard

November 19, 2015

New Zealander, who passed away in 2004, forever changed the sport of distance running via his training methods and coached athletes such as Mile legend Peter Snell to the Olympic podium and running glory.

By Duncan Larkin, Competitor

It’s not hard to start a conversation about famed running...

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The Legacy of New Zealand’s Milers

August 19, 2015

Jack Lovelock, Peter Snell, and John Walker paved the way for future Kiwi stars like Nick Willis.

By Roger Robinson, Running Times

When Nick Willis was a boy in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, he used to watch videos of Kiwis Jack Lovelock, Peter Snell, and John Walker winning Olympic 1500m gold...

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Miler Jim Ryun’s 50-year-old upset of Peter Snell still a magic moment in history

June 27, 2015

In an age when track & field was more popular in the U.S. than the NBA, NHL and what is now NASCAR, no one was a bigger star than high schooler Ryun

By Scott M. Reid, The Orange County Register

In early June 1965, Jim Ryun, an 18-year-old senior at Wichita’s East High School, and his coach...

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Mile Moment of the Month: 50 years ago Peter Snell sets rare world record

November 03, 2014

“The first half Mile was, I felt, too fast, but I was carried along by the whole atmosphere and excitement... I struggled along to the three-quarter mark, and from then on I was hanging on desperately.”

By Bring Back the Mile

Like October, which also has few top racing opportunities, the...

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Barcelona Press Points: Mile and Olympic Legends Kip Keino and Peter Snell

November 24, 2012

BARCELONA, Spain – New Zealand’s three-time Olympic middle-distance champion Peter Snell and Kip Keino, Kenya’s 1968 and 1972 Olympic 1500m and 3000m Steeplechase champion, respectively, appeared at the press point at the IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona. These were some of the highlights.

...

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Peter Snell to be inducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame

August 04, 2012

By IAAF

MONTE-CARLO - New Zealand’s three-time Olympic champion and multiple World record breaker Peter Snell is the latest athletics legend to be named as one of the 24 inaugural Members of the IAAF Hall of Fame which has been created to mark the year of the IAAF Centenary.

The announcement...

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Peter Snell: Gentleman, Athlete, Scholar

January 24, 2012

Renowned coach Arthur Lydiard's formula for distance running success: preparation, patience and performance

By Jim Ferstle for Running Times

To track fans, Peter Snell is a legendary triple Olympic gold medalist, who set the Mile world record twice. To his native New Zealanders, he's Sir...

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Peter Snell: Run of a lifetime 50 years on

January 22, 2012

"The crowd started singing 'For he's a jolly good fellow' and the place was in chaos, with people running all over the show."

By Grant Chapman, New Zealand Herald

For Sir Murray Halberg, it was a night tinged with death and sadness. For Peter Snell, it was the moment he realized he wasn't...

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Peter Snell Interview

May 01, 2011

There were other very nice moments such as when I was trying to run a sub-4 minute Mile and ended up breaking the World Record!

By Gary Cohen

Peter Snell of New Zealand won the gold medal in the 1960 Olympic 800 meter run in Rome, Italy by 0.07 seconds, clockng 1:46.48. Four years later in...

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An Exclusive Club

June 27, 1994

Forty years after Roger Bannister broke four minutes, the brotherhood of Mile record holders gathered to honor their grand obsession

By Gary Smith, Sports Illustrated

Never join someone who eclipses you. Align yourself with one who increases your luster. The man who puts you in the shade...

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Fast Teenagers in Grown-Up Time

July 05, 1965

With tactical cunning and a brilliant burst of speed, 18-year-old Jim Ryun beat the great Peter Snell in a U.S. record 3:55.3 Mile

By Gwilym S. Brown, Sports Illustrated

In San Diego one day last week an 18-year-old boy and a former football linebacker sat down to map out the strategy the boy...

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Snell’s Tortured Race to a Record Mile

November 30, 1964

Although he was, in his own words, 'desperate and struggling,' New Zealand's three-gold-medal Olympian beat his own mark and completely routed the world's second and third best Milers

By Sports Illustrated

"The first half Mile was, I felt, too fast," said Peter Snell, "but I was carried along...

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Meet The World’s Best Runner

February 12, 1962

In the southern reaches of faraway New Zealand young Peter Snell broke the world half-mile and 800 meter records last Saturday just a week after he had run history's fastest Mile

By Leslie Hobbs, Sports Illustrated

In the stretch of the Olympic 800 meter finals in Rome last year the highly...

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A ‘Novice Miler’ Runs the Fastest Mile Ever

February 05, 1962

New Zealand's burly Peter Snell, starting in one of the few Mile races of his young career, took the lead with 340 yards to go, sprinted away from the field to better Herb Elliott's classic mark by a tenth of a second: "I think I can improve on the Mile time a little."

By Leslie Hobbs, Sports...

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