Before the start of the Sir Graeme Douglas International in Auckland today, the World Athletics Heritage Plaque, which was awarded last year to honour the coaching legend Arthur Lydiard, was presented to Athletics New Zealand by World Athletics Vice President Geoff Gardner.
Gardner, in his first official capacity in New Zealand as Vice President since being elected in September, handed over the plaque to Cameron Taylor, chair of the Board of Athletics New Zealand, and a 1992 Barcelona Olympian.
The Heritage Plaque which was awarded to Arthur Lydiard in the posthumous ‘Legends’ category, recognises his outstanding contribution to worldwide history and development of athletics.
Present at the ceremony were two of Arthur’s sons, Gary and Roy, as well as six of his champion athletes:
Barry Magee, marathon bronze medallist 1960 Rome Olympic Games, Mike Ryan, marathon bronze medallist 1968 Mexico Olympic Games, Heather Matthews, silver medallist 3000m 1978 Edmonton Commonwealth Games, Jeff Julian, won 11 NZ titles and attended two Olympic and three Commonwealth Games, Bill Rodger, NZ six mile champion 1956, and Bryan Rose, NZ Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the NZ team that won the 1975 World Cross Country Championship.
The presentation of the plaque was accompanied by the following words from Gardner:
“World Athletics is delighted to award the World Athletics Heritage Plaque, in the posthumous category of Legend, to New Zealand’s pioneering coach Arthur Lydiard.
"Lydiard guided Peter Snell and Murray Halberg to Olympic gold medals and Barry Magee, John Davies and Mike Ryan to Olympic bronze medals.
“Auckland born and bred, Lydiard went away from the accepted norm of middle to long distance coaching when, in 1949, he embarked on a seven-days-a-week marathon type training regime.
“The 1960 Rome Olympics catapulted Lydiard on to the world stage.
“New Zealand won two gold medals barely an hour apart as unheralded Peter Snell captured the 800m title and then Murray Halberg, Lydiard’s first serious disciple, stunned the world with his catch-me-if-you-can 5000m triumph.
“Snell returned to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to win the 800m and 1500m double.
"Lydiard was recognized internationally not only for training elite athletes but for making jogging popular for fitness.
“The World Athletics Heritage Plaque is awarded for ‘an outstanding contribution to the worldwide history and development of the sport of track & field athletics’.
“World Athletics is proud to honour Arthur Lydiard, whose contribution to the development and application of coaching is legendary.”