Murray Halberg bigraphy, stories - New Zealand distance runner

Murray Halberg : biography

7 July 1933 -

Sir Murray Gordon Halberg (born 7 July 1933) is a former New Zealand middle distance runner who won the gold medal in the 5000 metres event at the 1960 Olympics. He also won gold medals in the 3 miles events at the 1958 and 1962 Commonwealth Games. He has worked for the welfare of children with disabilities since he founded the Halberg Trust in 1963.


Born in Eketahuna, Halberg was a rugby player in his youth, but suffered a severe injury during a game, leaving his left arm severely withered. The next year, he took up running, seemingly being only more motivated by his disability. In 1951, he met Arthur Lydiard, who became his coach. Lydiard had been a famous long-distance runner, and had new ideas on the training of athletes. Three years later, Halberg broke through, winning his first national title on the senior level.

At the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games he placed fifth in the mile. At the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, he placed eleventh in the 1500 metres. Halberg became the first sub four-minute miler from New Zealand, and won the gold medal in the three miles at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. He became New Zealand Sportsman of the Year for 1958.

For the 1960 Rome Olympics, Halberg focused on the longer distances, entering in the 5000 and 10000 m. Halberg won the 5000 m gold, on the same day countryman Peter Snell was victorious in the 800 m. Halberg later placed fifth in the 10,000 m.

The following year, Halberg set four world records in events over imperial distances. After carrying the flag at the opening ceremonies, Halberg successfully defended his three mile title at the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. He closed out his running career at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, finishing seventh in the 10,000 m.

In the 1961 New Year Honours Halberg was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to athletics. In the 1988 New Year Honours he was appointed a Knight Bachelor for services to sport and crippled children. In the Queen's Birthday Honours 2008 Halberg was appointed to the Order of New Zealand. (11 June 2008) 97 New Zealand Gazette 2561. The following month he became only the fourth person to be awarded the Blake Medal, named after fellow countryman Sir Peter Blake, for his more than 50 years' service to athletics, and to children with disabilities. In 1963 he set up The Halberg Trust, which supports children with disabilities to be active in sport, creation and leisure. For many years the Halberg Trust has managed the New Zealand Sportsman of the Year Award, which is now called the Westpac Halberg Awards.

Halberg House of Hutt International Boys' School is named after Sir Murray Halberg, and students in the house earn what are called "meter points" which relates to Sir Murray Halberg and his running career. Tauranga Boys' College also named a house after Sir Murray Halberg.

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