John Walker
Inducted in 1990
The first awareness most New Zealanders had of John Walker was at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch in 1974 when he chased home Filbert Bayi of Tanzania in the 1500 metres, which Bayi won in world record time.
Sporting Category:
  • Athletics
Sixteen years later, Walker raced again in the Commonwealth Games. In between, he was one of the world’s outstanding athletes.

He set a world mile record of 3min 49.4sec in 1975 to become the first to break 3min 50sec and in 1976 he won the 1500 metres gold medal at the Montreal Olympics, the third New Zealander to win that blue riband event.

He also set a world 2000 metres record. Walker’s career was disrupted by injury and he had to miss the 1978 Commonwealth Games while politics meant he could not defend his Olympic title in Moscow in 1980.

Walker returned from setbacks though and became the first to achieve the milestone of 100 sub-four minute miles.

He was attempting to become the first 40-year-old to run a sub-four mile when injury finally forced a halt to his career.

Sporting Spotlight

Barrie Devenport

(1935 - )

The challenge, to be the first in recorded history, to swim Cook Strait was likened to other sporting challenges such as Roger Bannister’s first sub-four minute mile and Sir Edmund Hillary’s conquest of Everest.
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