Murray Halberg Obituary, Death – Sir Murray Halberg, who won the gold medal in the 5000-meter race for New Zealand at the 1960 Olympics, passed away on Wednesday, according to World Athletics, at the age of 89. Halberg’s illustrious career included many world records, two Commonwealth crowns, and his Olympic triumph in Rome. Halberg, the first person from New Zealand to run a mile in under four minutes, also established the Halberg Foundation, which has left a lasting legacy. Halberg, who was born on July 7, 1933, in Eketahuna, grew up in Auckland and played rugby and cricket there. At the age of 17, he suffered a rugby injury that left him with a withered arm.
A turning point occurred when he met coach Arthur Lydiard in 1951, when he shifted his focus to sports. In the mile three years later at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Halberg came in sixth. In 1956, he competed in his first Olympic Games, finishing eleventh in the 1500-meter final in Melbourne. He won the first of his two Commonwealth three-mile titles in Cardiff in 1958, the same year he broke the four-minute mile record for his country, and he successfully defended that title in Perth in 1962 while competing as an Olympic champion. To win the prize in Rome, Halberg launched a daring break with about three laps remaining in the Olympic 5000-meter final.
At one time, he had a 20-meter lead. Soon after his training buddy and fellow countryman Peter Snell won the 800m, opponents tried to reel Halberg in, but he was unstoppable and won the gold in 13:43.76. In 1961, Halberg set four records, three of which (the two-mile, four-mile relay, and three-mile distances) were accomplished in less than 19 days. After competing at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games, where he placed eighth in the 10,000-meter race and ran in the 5000-meter qualifying rounds, he announced his retirement from athletics. Halberg was given the Order of New Zealand for his contributions to athletics and charitable work after being knighted in 1988 for services to sport and children with disabilities. For his contributions to athletics, he was also named a Member of the Order of the British Empire and inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame.
Chief executive officer of Athletics New Zealand Peter Pfitzinger stated of Sir Murray: “Sir Murray was a ferocious competitor who gave his all on the track, and a true gentleman who served others throughout his life.” He was a brilliant New Zealander and a true champion in every way. Liz Dawson, the president of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, also offered tribute, saying that Sir Murray Halberg “never more embodied the Olympic ethos of triumphing over hardship.” But Sir Murray was more than just a role model for athletes. As the creator and inspiration of the Halberg Foundation, he used his position to change the lives of children with disabilities after retiring from sports. Sir Murray encouraged others to overcome obstacles by using his success to do so.