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Road to Rome: Farewelling our Olympians, 30 July 1960

Thanks to Tony Brunt for finding these amazing pictures and sharing this story.

Buried away in the Rykenberg photo collection of Auckland Libraries are a collection of photographss from a notable night in New Zealand athletics history, the prizegiving and annual dance of the Owairaka Athletics Club, in Mt Roskill, Auckland, in July 1960 and their farewell to four Olympians, two of whom would win gold on the track at the Rome Olympics two months later.

These photos were taken by commercial photographer John Rykenberg and are online among thousands from his body of work, but the people are easily identified. Featured among them are Peter Snell, who would win a gold medal in the 800m, and Murray Halberg, who would win gold the same day in the 5,000m. Olympian marathon runners Jeff Julian and Ray Puckett are also present, as well as their celebrated coach, Arthur Lydiard, who set up the club’s harrier section and built it into a formidable force in New Zealand and world middle-distance and long-distance running.

One charming sequence shows Auckland Athletics President and harrier chairman, Frank Sharp, presenting Arthur Lydiard with his return ticket to Rome, funded by a public appeal.

These are a few from many photos taken that night at Wesley Hall, Owairaka, (otherwise known as the Black Hall) where our club had its headquarters. They are from the Rykenberg Collection, of the Auckland Libraries Heritage Collection, ‘Prizegiving at Wesley Hall, Sandringham, 1960

Photos: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, photographer John Rykenberg, ‘Prizegiving at Wesley Hall, Sandringham, 1960’ - Creative Commons Licence: Attribution CC BY.

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