Snell, Halberg, Lydiard. Think of Rome, 1960, and the three names will always be linked. Two supreme athletes and their master coach.

Peter Snell and Murray Halberg tell a story which they say epitomised Arthur Lydiard's motivational ability.

"We were in a jeep going from the village to the Olympic warm-up arena on the day," Halberg said. "Lydiard was on the right, Peter in the middle and I was on the other side in the back. He leant across in front of Peter and said to me: 'Peter is going to be an Olympic champion before you'.

"In my mind he was talking to me. But I do acknowledge some 40 years on I woke up to the fact that not only was he talking to me, he was talking to Peter. And Peter obviously heard it.

"He had that knack of saying that sort of thing at the right moment."

Halberg credits Lydiard with "giving me the physical training, developing of the aerobic base, all those factors and providing me with the wherewithal, the mindset to accomplish.

"Not mentioning any names, but I quite often see a guy who used to beat me quite regularly in different events ... but he didn't come under the influence of a coach like Lydiard. I guess I was in the right place at the right time."

Snell admits their relationship had its ups and downs. "He was such a dominant personality, you couldn't argue with him, but I've come to appreciate those qualities as probably part of his strength.

"He was obviously a very good thinker about everything and the dogmatic aspect of his personality meant he could stay the course on his ideas and beliefs in the presence of criticism and, in some cases, people who mocked him."

Snell didn't like Lydiard making bold predictions. "I liked to keep expectations low, and here's Arthur saying 'Peter's going to do this and that'. "I'd prove him right and that started to annoy me."

But Snell remembers Lydiard as the first person who told him of his potential: "The prevailing attitude in those days to a degree was to put people down rather than give them encouragement. Arthur, in me, was dealing with a person who really wanted to achieve something.

"So Lydiard comes into the picture and says 'with your speed you could be one of our greatest middle distance runners'.

"I thought, 'good God, show me'. I have a lot of admiration for him. I would not have had my career if not for him."