Three-time Olympic gold medallist Peter Snell intends to turn his Texas home inside out to try to find his 1964 Tokyo Games singlet.

Yesterday he said he was as perplexed as anyone with the revelation that a singlet which was purported to be the one he wore in his gold medal runs might not be the real deal.

The singlet, which Te Papa bought for $122,500 at auction last week, was set to be put on display at the Wellington museum. But museum staff were unable to confirm the singlet's authenticity and the parties had since agreed not to proceed with the sale.

"If it's true, the real thing has to be around somewhere," Snell said.


"In one sense, I am disappointed that a piece of my apparel is not going to be in Te Papa. But on the other hand, it may be that it shows up sometime.

"Hopefully the person that has it will donate it."

Speaking from his home in Texas, Snell said he was also shocked to hear the singlet was not the one he wore.

He said he would be interested to see the evidence on which the museum has made its call. "It's pretty hard to believe isn't it? I'm not sure what they do to establish that, where they compare it with other singlets. Some of these forensic people are pretty clever, so I'm looking forward to them sharing it some time.

"I don't know what the reasoning is for it, so yeah, I am shocked."

He is not giving up the search to find the singlet. "I'm going to really turn our place inside out and see if I can find the singlet somewhere. But I kind of doubt that I'm going to."

Snell said he could have given the original singlet to a charity auction and has no memorabilia left for himself. "I have a shoe from the Rome Olympic Games. It was made by Arthur Lydiard of all people - my coach who was a shoemaker by trade.

"The amount of money that the museum was prepared to pay or had to pay in order to get it, and they were prepared to come up with that, that was very surprising. And it was so surprising, I felt, well, if they are prepared to do that, I should perhaps let them have my medals to go with it. Now I'm going to need to rethink that, seeing as there's no singlet any more. So I have no idea what Te Papa's plans might be from here on out."

One of Snell's Tokyo medals is in the Hall of Fame museum in Dunedin.