Archive

Track and Field in Christchurch

Multiple world-record holder Alf Shrubb, suffering from the six-week voyage from England and heat problems in Australia, got buried in the mile in the NZ champs in Christchurch by local runner Hector Burk, who broke the national record with 4:27.4..
American J. Power set an Australasian all-comers’ record for the mile of 4:18.4..
On a muddy and cold English Park in February, Masterton farmer Randolph Rose clinched his 3-race series against visiting star Lloyd Hahn, with a flying last lap that left the American floundering 5 seconds back, and gave Rose an Australasian record, and world grass-track record, of 4:13.6.
Peter Snell came to Lancaster Park fresh from his world mile record at Wanganui, to race two top Americans, Jim Dupree and John Bork, over 880 yards. The result entered sports legend – an 800 time of 1:44.3 (1.4 secs under the world record) and 880 of 1:45.1 (1.7 under the world record). That was on grass, remember..
Highlight of the Commonwealth Games at QE2 had to be Tanzanian Filbert Bayi’s dream world record 1500 in 3:32.2. Five national records were set in that amazing race – Tanzania , New Zealand (John Walker 2 nd ), Kenya (Ben Jipcho 3 rd ), Australia (Graeme Crouch 5 th ), and Great Britain . Through the announcer’s window I asked Brendan Foster how it felt to break the British record and finish only 7 th . His reply is still unprintable. Those Games produced race after race better than any Olympics. Other great ones were the John Kipkurgat/Mike Boit near-world record 800 (1:43.9), Jipcho’s defeat of Foster in the 5000 (13:14.4), and of course Dick Tayler’s 10,000..
Still high on 1974 endorphins, the Games organising committee put on the New Zealand Games, “to capitalise on facilities and know-how from the Commonwealth Games and provide top-class international competition.” In another fabulous track programme, twelve New Zealand all-comers’ records were broken. Notable were Dick Quax’s 5000 victory over Mjaya Nyambui ( Tanzania ) and Henry Rono ( Kenya ), sublime sprinting in the 200 by Olympic champion Valeriy Borzov (USSR), Dianne Zorn/Rodgers’ record 3000, another win for Bayi over Walker at 800, and Walker ‘s 1500 metres win against top runners from seven countries..
The best of the Pan-Am/South Pacific TV series saw a Christchurch meet highlighted by a 4:07.7 1500 by Mary Decker (USA), Brit Mick McLeod’s cheeky defeat of Henry Rono over 5000, and Kenyan James Maina’s 800..
The visionary new Christchurch International Track Meet gloriously overcame injury gremlins that struck its featured stars, potential sub-3:50 milers Nick Willis and Andy Baddeley. An Aussie thriller filled that gap, with Jeff Risely (3:54.24) edging Collis Birmingham (3:54.36). Five men under four minutes made it the greatest mile ever run in New Zealand, with Jason Woolhouse (4th in 3:59.80) the newest Kiwi in the sub-4 club. Kiwi sprinters also shone, with Monique Williams setting a women’s resident 200 record of 23.26 and sensational local David Ambler scorching a stadium and NZ under-19 record of 10.35. Ryan Gregson’s Australian under-19 3000 record of 7:57.45 topped off the best Christchurch meet since 1975..

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