Sir Peter Snell honoured in Wanganui

Updated at 6:23 am on 16 August 2009

A statue to commemorate the world record-breaking achievements of the runner Sir Peter Snell has been unveiled at Wanganui's Cooks Gardens.

About 800 people attended the ceremony on Saturday in honour of the triple Olympic gold medalist.

The bronze statue overlooks the finish line where Sir Peter broke the world mile record on 27 January 1962.

The creators of the life-size statue, Chris Elliot of Hawke's Bay and Ross Wilson from Marton, modelled the work on a photo of Sir Peter crossing the finish line in the historic race.

Sir Peter, 70, says the statue is wonderful and he's very flattered to be honoured in that way. He says he has always held a special place in his heart for the city of Wanganui.

Sir Peter, who has lived in the United States since 1971, set numerous national and world records during his relatively brief running career, and some of his national records still stand today.

Among his crowning achievements were his Olympic 800 metres triumph in Rome in 1960, and gold medals for both the 800 metre and 1500 metre events in Toyko four years later.

On Friday he took part in a ceremony in Wellington that changed the New Zealand honour he received from the previous Labour government to a traditional knighthood.

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