By DAVID OGILVIE David.ogilvie@wanganuichronicle.co.nz
Running great Peter Snell will do his best to be available for a Wanganui date on February 15 and 16 next year.
The date? The unveiling of his statue to be placed in Cooks Gardens, the third running of the Mayoral Mile, the Wanganui Sports Awards, and a re-union of the runners who took place in Snell's famous world mile-breaking record in the Cooks grass track on January 27, 1962.
But before we get ahead of ourselves ? the statue has to be given the go-ahead, and Snell has to talk with Massey University authorities to ask for a change of date for a symposium he's due to attend.
Fund-raising for the statue relied pretty much on Snell firstly giving his permission for it to go ahead ? and he appeared to do that yesterday on a short stop in Wanganui where he met with members of the council's sport and rec committee armed with responsibility for organising the raising of the money.
Snell and wife Miki are in the country for about a month doing work involving Massey, and on Saturday they attended the unveiling of a statue of Snell in Opunake, his birthplace.
Snell yesterday sought reasons for Wanganui going ahead with a second statue, and was happy with the reply. Statue committee chairman Phil Kearney:
"It hasn't been done, it's something that's happened and talked about in Wanganui which has never been captured properly."
There have been 12 expressions of interest in the statue, and most have indicated a timeline of a July start would allow it to be ready for a February unveiling.
Snell himself has no problems with a statue of himself.
"I'm very flattered by the fact that Opunake wanted to do it ? the town of my birth. I see it as a very nice honour." Snell has extremely happy memories of that night in Wanganui ? so much so he rates the performance as being right up behind his three Olympic golds (800m Rome, 1960 and 800/1500 Tokyo 1964).
"It's hard to surpass Olympic medals, but I would say it was right behind them ? it was particularly good because it was not expected. I remember very clearly about what I thought I might be able to do ? about 3min 57sec.
"I had been close, on New Year's Day I ran something like 4.01.5 at Timaru. It was a handicap event and I had people to chase, but I was surprised how well I ran.
"Everything just fell into place. I knew that I could turn it on in the last lap, so if we ran 60-60-60 then 3.57 was possible. But I had no idea I could run 3.54."
Snell asked Kearney what Wanganui wanted him to do.
"Just turn up."
So he's going to try his best to do that.