John Walker (athlete)


John Walker (athlete) : biography

12 January 1952 –

Personal bests

Distance Time Place Date
800 m 1:44.92 Christchurch 1974
1000 m 2:16.6 NR Oslo 1980
1500 m 3:32.4 Oslo 1975
Mile 3:49.08 NR Oslo 1982
2000 m 4:51.4 NR Oslo 1976
3000 m 7:37.49 NR London 1982

New Zealand records

During 1981 he set a New Zealand all-comers’ mile record of 3:50.6 in Auckland.

In 1982 in Oslo, Norway, Steve Scott (3:47.69), John Walker (3:49.08), and Ray Flynn (3:49.77) took the top three spots in The Dream Mile, establishing American, New Zealand, and Irish national records for the mile in the same race. All three national records stood for 25 years until 21 July 2007, when Alan Webb broke Scott’s American record. Walker and Flynn’s times remain national records.

1976 Montreal Olympic Games

In the 800 metres Walker failed to advance to the semi-finals missing the top two qualifying spots in his heat running a time of 1:47.63.

However Walker was a favourite to win the 1500 metres due to the African boycott of the Games weakening the field. The 1500 metres final started at a slow pace going through 800 metres in 2:03. The race would come down to a fast finish. In a bid to out-sprint runners that were quicker over 800 metres, Walker started his finishing sprint 300 metres from the finish, fading in the last 20 metres holding out Ivo Van Damme and Paul-Heinz Wellmann to win the gold medal. Although it seemed that the boycott denied Bayi (who was Walker’s main rival) the opportunity to challenge for the 1500 metre title, Bayi likely would not have competed, anyway, because of an attack of malaria that he suffered. In 1977 Walker saw his position as the world’s top miler challenged by Steve Ovett, who beat him in the IAAF World Cup 1500M.