New Zealand’s Peter Snell: An Olympic Legend from 1964 Passes Away

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He had recently arrived that first week of October, 1964, and was feeling crappy. Peter Snell was not peaking in time for the Tokyo Olympics.

“I had a form of claustrophobia for the first few days in Japan,” wrote Snell in his autobiography, No Bugles No Drums. “The weather wasn’t too good, it was a strange country with a vast population and I was feeling depressed. I spent the fourth day in bed with a slight temperature and a very sick feeling. I was able to jog the fifth day and eventually got back on to my schedule but at this stage John (his teammate) was going particularly well and I was finding it hard to keep up with him.”

And yet, the 1960 800-meter champion at the Rome Olympics went on to achieve legendary status at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics: not only becoming one of four Olympians ever to win back-to-back 800-meter Olympic championships, but also being the only Olympian since 1920 to win gold in both the 800-meter and 1500-meter distances in the same Olympics.

Sir Peter Snell, the pride of Opunake, New Zealand, passed away in his sleep on Thursday, December 12, 2019. He was 80 years old.

If you are interested, here are a few posts I wrote on Snell a few years ago:

No Bugles No Drums is an eloquent book by Snell and Garth Gilmour, its title appropriate for the smart but understated athlete, who writes with wit and insight.

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