Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Athletics: Peter Snell's historic singlet to be auctioned

Peter Snell takes gold during the 1500m event at Tokyo. Photo / Herald Archive
Peter Snell takes gold during the 1500m event at Tokyo. Photo / Herald Archive

One of the most iconic and recognisable items from New Zealand's sporting history, Sir Peter Snell's double-gold medal winning black singlet, is going under the hammer.

Snell wore the singlet at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to win gold in both the 800m and 1500m running events - a feat which has never been repeated.

Now, it is expected to fetch tens of thousands when it goes under the hammer at Auckland auction house Cordy's later this month.

Auctioneer Andrew Grigg says the item has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.
"In a mad keen sports nation with a short history, Peter Snell's achievements stand up there the best of them," he said.

"In New Zealand athletic history Peter Snell's double is the greatest achievement by any athlete, his singlet embodies that greatness."

It is stitched with Snell's racing number '466' in black on white below an embroidered 'New Zealand' and trademark 'Silver Fern'.

Peter Snell's historic singlet.
Peter Snell's historic singlet.

The manufacturer's label which is overstitched with Snell's name tag, 'Snell, P.G.', shows some signs of "age, minor staining and deterioration".

The unique piece of sporting memorabilia is displayed under glass within a presentation frame together with three photographic reproductions of Snell running at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

It also comes with a descriptive label and facsimile signature, along with a signed first edition copy of the 1965 book, No Bugles No Drums by Peter Snell and Garth Gilmour.

Mr Grigg said it had been a "very difficult item" to value, and thinks the $30,000 to $50,000 estimate could be conservative.

Sir Peter, now aged 77 and living in Texas, US, is widely considered one of the greatest middle-distance runners of all time, and noted as New Zealand's athlete of the 20th century.

By the time of the 1964 Olympic Games, Snell - a protege of legendary Kiwi athletics coach Arthur Lydiard - was already a world record holder and gold medal winner at the Rome Olympics in 1960.

In Tokyo, he was particularly dominant winning the gold and setting a new Olympic record in the 800m, before going on to also claim gold in the 1500m.

The 800m - 1500m double has never been repeated at an Olympic event and was only achieved once after at the 2005 World championships by Bahrain athlete, Rashid Ramzi, who was later stripped of his Olympic gold medal for doping.

The vendor is an Aucklander who himself was a top schoolboy runner in the 1960s, Mr Grigg told the Herald.

The jersey was gifted "in the not too distant past" to his family, in recognition of his athletic feats.

"He was inspired by Snell and himself rubbed shoulders with some of the greats of the time," Mr Grigg said.

However, it's not clear exactly what path the singlet took after leaving Snell's possession.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 21 Oct 2016 23:38:34 Processing Time: 494ms