The life and career of Peter Snell.

1938 - Born in Opunake, Taranaki, on December 17.

1949 - His family moves to Waikato, where Snell attends Te Aroha High School and is a talented all-round sportsman. Later, he goes to Mt Albert Grammar School in Auckland (as a boarding student), where he plays rugby, cricket, tennis, badminton and golf, as well as competing in track and field.

1958 - Meets coach Arthur Lydiard for the first time. The 19-year-old is a nationally-ranked tennis player but Lydiard convinces him he could be a middle-distance champion. Soon after, Snell joins his stable of runners.


1959 - Wins mile and half mile national titles.

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1960 - Snell is selected for the Rome Olympics. A complete unknown on the world stage, Snell comes through two heats and a semifinal to make the final. In a strong field, he stuns world record holder Roger Moens with a late burst to win in 1m 46.30s, a new Olympic record.

1961 - Racing in Dublin, Snell is part of a New Zealand quartet (along with Garry Philpott, Murray Halberg and Barry Magee) that breaks the world record for the 4x1 mile relay.

1962 - At Cooks Gardens in Whanganui on January 27, Snell sets a new world record for the mile of 3m 54.40s, breaking Herb Elliott's mark.

The life and career of Peter Snell. Photos / Photosport
The life and career of Peter Snell. Photos / Photosport


- At Lancaster Park in Christchurch on February 3, again on a grass track, Snell sets a new world record for the 800m. His time of 1m 44.30s isn't bettered for six years and remains the New Zealand record to this day.

1962 - Wins double gold in the mile and half mile at the Commonwealth Games in Perth. Appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

1964 - Completes the 800-1500m double in Tokyo, becoming the first to do so since 1920, and no man has done it since. His 800m time is an Olympic record, while he destroys the field in the 1500m, winning by 1.5s.


1964 - Running at Western Springs in Auckland, he lowers the world records for the 1000m and mile (3m 54.1s) in the space of six days.

1965 - Retires from athletics aged 26.

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1970 - Named Athlete of the Decade by Track and Field magazine.

1990 - Inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.

2000 - Voted New Zealand's Athlete of the Century.

2002 - In the New Year Honours, he is appointed a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sport.

2009 - Becomes Sir Peter Snell.

2012 - One of 24 inaugural inductees into the IAAF Hall of Fame.

2017 - Donates two of his Olympic golds to Te Papa in Wellington.