Running Legend Sir Murray Halberg Our Olympic Hero
Sir Murray Halberg, New Zealand Olympic 5000m champion in 1960, two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and multiple world record-breaker, has died aged 89, Jason Henderson writes in an obituary for Athletics Weekly.
Halberg achieved greatness on the track despite sustaining a rugby injury when he was 17 which left him with a withered left arm and a doctor’s verdict that he would never run again, Henderson writes.
His career was guided by Arthur Lydiard and he trained alongside Peter Snell, the three-time Olympic middle-distance champion who died in 2019.
Born in 1933, in Eketāhuna, Halberg moved to Auckland and, following his rugby injury, began running the following year and soon afterwards met Lydiard.
In 1958 he won gold in the three miles at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff and in the same year became the first sub-four-minute miler from New Zealand.
In 1960 he ran the 5000m and 10,000m at the Olympics in Rome. It was at the shorter distance where he struck gold, though.
Courageously breaking away with 1300m to run and building up a lead of over 30m at one stage, Halberg crossed the 5000m finish line in 13:43.4.
His daring tactics in Rome thrilled the crowd.
New Zealand Olympic Committee president Liz Dawson said: “No one ever exemplified the Olympic spirit of triumphing over adversity better than Sir Murray Halberg.”
Original article by Jason Henderson, Athletics Weekly, December 2, 2022.