Snell gives memorabilia to hall of fame

New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame chief executive Ron Palenski holds Peter Snell's IAAF Hall of...
New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame chief executive Ron Palenski holds Peter Snell's IAAF Hall of Fame induction plaque in front of the runner's display at the hall in the Dunedin Railway Station yesterday. Photos: PETER MCINTOSH
A prized collection from one of New Zealand sport's greatest has travelled halfway around the world to find a new home in Dunedin.

Peter Snell has donated virtually all of the memorabilia remaining in his possession to the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame, based in the Dunedin Railway Station.

The collection includes a substantial number of documents, medals and trophies from the three-time Olympic gold medallist's career.

Most significant is the plaque commemorating his induction to the IAAF Hall of Fame.

To gain entry to that hall, athletes are required to have won at least two Olympic medals and broken a world record.

Middle distance runner Snell (79) is the only New Zealander to have achieved that.

One of Snell's New Zealand sportsperson of the year trophies.
One of Snell's New Zealand sportsperson of the year trophies.
The New Zealand hall's chief executive, Ron Palenski, travelled to Snell's home in Dallas earlier in the year to gather the collection.

He returned with a suitcase full of memorabilia, which he was thrilled to have secured.

"It's wonderful that we've got it and that Peter felt that this was the best place for it to be," Palenski said.

"He gave us one of his [Olympic] gold medals some years ago. We've got other material of his as well, including shoes."

Last year Snell gave his other two gold medals to Wellington's Te Papa, after the museum had bought a singlet that turned out not to be his.

That led him and his wife, Miki, to decide to give "the rest of" his memorabilia to the hall.

After being unsure exactly what that meant, Palenski travelled to the other side of the world to find he "pretty much had the run of his house".

"Pretty much everything that he had left in terms of memorabilia is now here."

Snell's New Zealand Olympic pin.
Snell's New Zealand Olympic pin.
The hall includes displays on the very best from New Zealand sporting history.

However, even among that elite company, Palenski had to admit that this was a particularly special collection.

"My policy has always been that I've got to treat every inducted member equally.

"But clearly, Peter was voted the New Zealand athlete of the 20th century and three Olympic gold medals and five world records sets him apart a bit, don't you think?"

Palenski hoped to revamp Snell's display and said the hall would rotate the items on show.

The significant items, such as the IAAF Hall of Fame plaque and Olympic gold medal, would remain the centrepieces, however.

He was unsure when the new material would be available for the public to see, but he hoped it would be in the next few months.


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