Whanganui has lost one of its finest athletes and coaches with the death of world 4xone mile relay record holder and multiple New Zealand middle distance champion Kevin Ross.
He is one of only two Whanganui track and field athletes to have held world records.
Ross, along with Dick Quax, Richard Tayler and Wanganui Collegiate School-educated Tony Polhill, set a world mile record of 16min 2.4sec at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium on February 3, 1972.
That event has since been replaced by 4x1500m but the 4xone mile record still stands as the world's last official record for the event
Whanganui's other world record was Arthur Holder's 300 yards time of 31.2sec set in Napier on April 29, 1896.
Ross, aged 73, who died after a brief illness, won five New Zealand titles between 1965-66 and 1970-71 including three successive national senior 880 yards championships.
He was NZ junior 880 yards winner in 1965-66 (1m 53.9s) and won a hat-trick of NZ senior titles between 1966-69 with times of 1:51.8,1:55.1 and 1:53.0.
In 1970-71 he stepped up to 1500m and won the national title in 3m 42.0 against a strong field that included internationals Dick Quax and Richard Tayler
Ross, who was competing against the fastest runners in the country, was the smallest athlete but possessed explosive speed to win his major titles.
Under coach Toby Bowyer he set a NZ junior 880 yards record of 1:53.0.
In the world 4xone mile relay record in Auckland, Ross clocked 4:01.0, the same time as Tayler, with Polhill at 4:02.0 and Quax 3:58.4.
Ross, who narrowly missed Olympic selection, was third (1:49.7) in the 1968 Australian 800m championship behind American Preston Davis and eventual Olympic Games champion Australian Ralph Doubell (1:49.3).
The Whanganui runner placed fifth (1;49.5) in the 1969 Pacific Conference Games 800m in Tokyo won by Doubell (1:48.0).
He won a host of West Coast (North Island) centre and Whanganui club titles and still holds the WCNI 800m (1:48.6 set at Hamilton on February 17, 1972) and 1500m (3:42.5 at Inglewood on February 27, 1971) records.
Ross became one of New Zealand's most successful coaches, with his athletes winning an incredible 46 New Zealand titles and collecting 39 second and 17 third placings in track distances up to 800m, marathons. cross-country, road and mountain running disciplines.
His athletes, who included a number of national representatives, won 16 Auckland half and full marathons and 10 Canterbury half and full marathons and 10-mile titles.
Ross was an Athletic and Cycling Club official, filling a wide range of positions, was President of the WCNI centre and served on the Whanganui Sports Heritage Trust at the time of his death.
He won back-to-back local Sportsperson of the Year titles in 1968-69 and one of the highlights of his career was being presented with the cup by legendary American Jesse Owens, star of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Whanganui-born Ross, who was a Land Transport investigator, was stationed in Wellington, at Island Bay, for 20 years before returning to Whanganui six years ago.
He requested a private funeral service attended by his sons Hamish, Braden and Jeremy and brother Alan.