25 Nov 2012

Snell says NZ didn't take advantage of his talents

1:40 pm on 25 November 2012

One of New Zealand's most famous Olympians says this country has failed to take advantage of his expertise.

Sir Peter Snell won the Olympic 800 metres title in Rome in 1960 and followed up with a double of 800 and 1500 metres golds in Tokyo four years later.

He set several world records before his retirement in 1965, eventually moving to the United States where he earned a PhD in exercise physiology before settling in Dallas, Texas.

Sir Peter says no one seemed interested in having his talents in New Zealand, Reuters reports.

"I was originally going to do an undergraduate degree and go back to New Zealand and be a fitness consultant," he told reporters at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) centenary in Barcelona, Spain.

"Then I got turned on to research and after seven years New Zealand wasn't interested but the US was and I got offered a post-graduate fellowship in Dallas, got married to a Texan and that was it."

Sir Peter says other top athletes have had the same experience.

He gave the example of the yachtsman Sir Russell Coutts, who left New Zealand for Switzerland and helped Alingi beat Team New Zealand in the 2003 America's Cup.

"New Zealand is weird in that respect," he said. "They admire the results but they don't want to help you out professionally, they do it all the time.

"They did it to Russell Coutts, who then went to Switzerland and took the Cup away. I loved that."