Skip to main content
Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


SNELL, Peter George, O.B.E.

(1938– ).


Peter George Snell was born at Opunake on 17 December 1938 and educated at Te Aroha District High School and Mount Albert Grammar School. Since 1960, when he won the 800 metres event at the Rome Olympics in the record time of 1 min 46.3 sec, Peter Snell has built up an enviable record in international athletics. In 1962 he established world record times in four events: the 1 mile (3 min 54.4 sec), which he ran at Wanganui on 27 January; the 800 metres (1 min 44.3 sec) and the 880 yards (1 min 45.1 sec), which he ran at Christchurch on 3 February; the 1,000 yards (indoors) (2 min 6 sec), which he ran at Los Angeles on 10 February; and the 880 yards (indoors) (1 min 49.9 sec), which he ran at Tokyo on 18 March. At the 1962 Empire Games at Perth he created an Australian and Empire Games record in the 880 yards (1 min 47.6 sec) and won the 1 mile in 4 min 4.6 sec. On 27 January 1962, at Wanganui, he was timed over 1,500 metres, which he did in 3 min 39.3 sec, and in December of that year was in the team which set a New Zealand record for the 4 × 1 mile relay (16 min 43.5 sec). On 5 January 1963 the same team, W. Baillie, M. Halberg, P. G. Snell, and J. Davies, reduced their previous record to 16 min 29.2 sec. In the same year Snell won the mile at the Coliseum Relays, Los Angeles, in 4 min 0.3 sec (17 May); he created a new United States record when he ran the Californian Relays mile at Modesto in 3 min 54.9 sec (25 May). On 31 May he won the South Pacific Association A.A.U. Championships 880 yards event in 1 min 48 sec and, on 7 June, won the Compton Relays mile in 3 min 55 sec. In the course of his 1964 South African tour, Snell created South African records and won the national titles for the 880 yards and 1 mile events, his fastest times there being 1 min 48.5 sec and 3 min 59.6 sec respectively. He was awarded the M.B.E. in 1962 and the O.B.E. in 1965.

In July 1965 Snell announced his retirement from athletics and stated that he would become a director of a new sports foundation. Later in the year his book, No Bugles, No Drums, was published.


McLintock, Alexander Hare