ARTHUR LYDIARD

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Plaque name:

ARTHUR LYDIARD

Location:

The Pavilion AUT, Millenium Institute, 17 Antares Place, Auckland, New Zealand. , 0632

Plaque awarded:

26/09/2019

Reason

Plaque Category - Legend

New Zealand athletics coach Arthur Lydiard, guided Peter Snell and Murray Halberg to Olympic gold medals.

Auckland born and bred, Lydiard went away from the accepted norm of middle to long-distance coaching when, in 1949, he embarked on a seven-days-a-week marathon-type training regime.

He was the guinea pig, testing himself by running longer distances to ascertain just what the body could handle.

Lydiard built up his training to the fabled 100 miles a week and was good enough to run into 12th place for New Zealand in the marathon at the 1950 Empire Games on roads not far from where he attended Edendale Primary, Kowhai Intermediate and Mt Albert Grammar. His time of 2:54:51 was nothing startling, but he had at least proved a point.

In 1953 and 1955 he won the national marathon title, which was also won by Lydiard pupils Ray Puckett, Barry Magee and Jeff Julian 11 times between 1958 and 1970. The only misses were in 1966-67 when wiry West Coaster Dave McKenzie, who won the fabled Boston Marathon on the back of a Lydiard programme, took the honours.

The 1960 Rome Olympics catapulted Lydiard on to the world stage.

New Zealand won two gold medals barely an hour apart as unheralded Peter Snell captured the 800m title and then Murray Halberg, Lydiard's first serious disciple, stunned the world with his catch-me-if-you-can 5000m triumph.

Lydiard, not considered good enough to be part of the official New Zealand team in Rome, became a somewhat reluctant hero.

Snell set World records for the 800m (1962), 1000m (1964) and the Mile (1962 & 1964), and took a remarkable 800m and 1500m double at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, a feat which has since not been repeated by another male athlete.

Lydiard was recognised internationally not only for training elite athletes but for making jogging popular for fitness.

Lydiard coached for the Mexican Athletics Federation in 1965 and in Finland from 1967. He was credited with the renaissance in Finnish distance running in the 1970s.

Lydiard died in the United States on 11 December 2004 aged 87.

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