Poem By Michael Walker
-'The time you won your town the race/ We chaired you through the market-place/ Man and boy stood cheering by, / And home we brought you shoulder-high'. 'To An Athlete Dying Young'.A. E. Housman
Peter Snell was an unknown athlete
when he won the 800 metres gold medal
at the 1960 Rome Olympics, lunging at the tape
to just shade Roger Moens on the line.
The upset win boosted Snell's confidence
in middle-distance races back home.
In 1962 Snell broke the world mile record
on grass at Wanganui's Cooks gardens.
I liked running on the grass track at Western Springs
and some evenings Peter Snell was there too,
doing intervals training for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics
where he won the 800 metres and 1500 metres, comfortably.
Snell set world and Olympic records at various distances,
yet the year after the Tokyo triumphs he retired.
The trajectory of his career was like a shooting star.
Then he moved across the sky to the United States.
(Peter Snell 1938-December 2019) .