Re Peter Snell's record-breaking mile in Whanganui in 1962. I live in Townsville, and have been in Australia since 1978, but I am still a proud New Zealander. Of course, people involved will make reference to it being on a grass track and more difficult because it was quite a bit shorter than 440 yards. I was there with my family, then living in Mangakino and on holiday before my last year at high school.
Not a lot was made of the fact that Peter Snell's friend Peter Hitchens - particularly a steeplechaser - had drowned on his way to the event when he had an epileptic fit while taking a swim break in his travel. My understanding was that this was kept from Snell until later, but that others in the race knew of it and ran with that burden, including I think Barry Cossar, whose pace for the first two laps was crucial for the eventual time.
The programme for the event, which sadly, I don't still have, listed the world mile record for Herb Elliot as 3 min 54.4. I told my family before the event that this was wrong and that Elliot's record was 3:54.5. I don't think they took a lot of notice then.
When the race was completed with Snell's typical long, surging sprint finish, the announcer told the crowd that Snell had equalled the world record. I don't think he actually said what the time was to start with, but I was jumping up and down and telling everyone around me that the time in the programme was wrong!
There had been a huge roar, of course, with the early announcement, but then the correction came and the time was stated to have not equalled but broken the record. The enthusiasm for athletics then was way beyond what it has generally been since those days in NZ and we all knew we had seen something quite exceptional. I was close to the finishing line and had timed the race on my own stopwatch, analogue of course, and managed to record exactly the same 3:54.4. I kept the watch on that for some time before it got accidentally bumped and returned to zero.
Incidentally, I was later a student at the University of Auckland and Auckland Teachers College and also present at Western Springs Stadium when Snell broke that record again on the cinder track there.
May I first congratulate you on the recent huge increase in the number of readers' letters published. It is great to see the regular contributors voicing their opinions and offering contra views to those of others. I was delighted to see Potonga Neilson endorsing one of my scant published contributions recently (Letters, June 24).
I would also like to congratulate Rob Rattenbury for his comment piece in yesterday's Chronicle (June 29). He detailed the day-to-day problems facing our police and handled the "arming" issue well. Like him, I do not believe that having a Glock on your belt would have made any difference ...
His description of the camaraderie among the police is essentially the same as that in the armed forces and is a bond seldom broken.
Letters: Untested people out of quarantine like 'loaded guns'
Letters: Local retailers deserve our support
Comment: The madness of the past and present
His eulogy to Constable Matthew Hunt is magnificent and truly fitting. However, we could all make a meaningful tribute to Matthew by making an effort to pronounce his rank correctly. A vast majority of New Zealanders, from the Prime Minister, through media personalities and right down to the bag lady on Glasgow St pronounce it as if it is spelled Cunstable, instead of Constable.
Let's try hard to make this right. [Abridged]