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World Athletics Heritage Plaque: Arthur Lydiard

World Athletics Heritage Plaque: Arthur Lydiard

At the 2020 Sir Graeme Douglas International, the World Heritage Plaque under the Legends category was posthumously presented to Arthur Lydiard’s family, former athletes and Athletics New Zealand by Geoff Gardner, Vice-President, World Athletics. Thank you to World Athletics for joining us for this milestone.

About the World Athletics Heritage Plaque: The Heritage Plaque is a location-based recognition which highlights, celebrates and links together iconic and historic athletics competitions, careers, performances, cities, venues, landmarks and culture around the world.

World Athletics Vice President Geoff 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.

About Arthur Lydiard:

Peter Snell, Murray Halberg, Barry Magee, Alan McNight. Photo: Leon Hamlet (From Garth Gilmore collection)

Arthur Lydiard was posthumously awarded the plaque due to his outstanding contribution to worldwide history and development of athletics.

Without doubt, Lydiard was the best all-time running coach in the world. He is one of the most influential personalities in world athletics. Through trial and error, he devised and perfected the ‘Lydiard system’ of producing athletes with superior stamina through long-running and testing hills and enhanced their speed with surges and hill work.

Arthur also had the ability to instil confidence in his athletes and the combination allowed them to dream of achieving the impossible. He burst into prominence at the 1960 Rome Olympics when two of his proteges Peter Snell and Murray Halberg won Olympic gold medals on the same day and Barry Magee won the bronze medal in the marathon.

His team of runners known as Arthur’s Boys trained to brilliance and went on to dominate international track and marathon running for two decades. World wide adoption of his technique by other running coaches and many coaches in other sports has seen Lydiard conditioned athletes winning Olympic, international and national titles and breaking records by the score.

The Plaque was accepted at the Sir Graeme Douglas International by the following people:

  • Cameron Taylor chair of the Board of Athletics New Zealand, and 1992 Barcelona Olympian.
  • Barry Magee, marathon bronze medallist 1960 Rome Olympic Games, seven NZ titles and member of NZ team that set a 4 x 1mile world record in 1961, who acknowledges that Lydiard is the greatest distance running coach the world has ever seen.
  • Mike Ryan, marathon bronze medallist 1968 Mexico Olympic Games, and marathon bronze medallist 1966 Kingston Jamaica Commonwealth Games, won four NZ titles.
  • Heather Matthews, silver medallist 3000m 1978 Edmonton Commonwealth Games won five NZ titles.
  • Jeff Julian, won 11 NZ titles and attended two Olympic and three Commonwealth Games.
  • Bill Rodger, NZ six mile champion 1956. First NZer to break 29 minutes for six miles.
  • Bryan Rose, NZ Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the NZ team that won the 1975 World Cross Country Championship.
  • Gary Lydiard, son of Arthur
  • Roy Lydiard, son of Arthur

Story Credit: Athletics New Zealand

World Athletics Story:

Photo Credit: Alisha Lovrich Photography