Our national museum could soon have two of Sir Peter Snell's gold medals to go alongside his Tokyo Olympic Games singlet, bought by Te Papa at auction today for $122,500.
Sir Peter wore the singlet when he won gold medals in both the 800 metres and 1500m events at the 1964 Games. The medals were in addition to his first Olympic gold medal, awarded after he triumphed in the 800m in Rome four years earlier.
Sir Peter told the New Zealand Herald this afternoon he was pleased the singlet was going to stay in New Zealand, and its sale to Te Papa had inspired him to think about the future of the two gold medals still in his possession. His third medal, won in Tokyo, had already been donated to the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in Dunedin.
"Te Papa should get the [remaining two] medals. They don't have to pay for them, they would get them as a bonus. I've talked to my wife and she thinks it's a good idea. I just have to make sure [the rest of my family] are OK.
"I think they really belong to New Zealand. I was representing New Zealand, they made it possible. I just happened to deliver. I've enjoyed having them for all these years."
He had not decided when to gift the medals, but said it would likely happen "sooner rather than later".
A keen senior sports' competitor, he was considering taking part in the World Masters' Games in Auckland next year.
That could be a good time to hand the medals over, he said.
Te Papa spokeswoman Kate Camp said they were "incredibly excited" at the prospect of adding Sir Peter's medals to their collection and looked forward to hearing from him.
They were yet to decide when and where Sir Peter's singlet would be displayed, but would "make a song and dance" when they did.
"We want people to know where to come."
Sir Peter also revealed America's Cup winning yachtie Sir Russell Coutts had expressed an interest in buying the singlet.
In an email to Sir Peter yesterday, Sir Russell said he hoped to win the auction.
"[The singlet represents] simply one of the most momentus moments in New Zealand sport," Sir Russell told Sir Peter in the email.
Sir Russell could not be contacted for comment.
However, Sir Peter said Sir Russell and Team New Zealand's winning 1995 America's Cup campaign was more important that his efforts on the Olympic stage.
"I think that was actually huge, huge, huge, and also very lucrative for the country."
Although he "couldn't believe" the singlet had sold for more than $120,000, he was pleased it would remain in New Zealand.
He also hoped the person selling the singlet would donate the proceeds to charity. He had initially given the singlet away many years ago to benefit charity, Sir Peter said.
The person who sold the singlet was not available for comment, but a relative handling the sale on his behalf told the Herald while no firm plans had been made "there are charities in mind" for the proceeds.