THIS WEEK'S GUEST - 31st July 2013
9 to 10pm Radio Sport

Sir John Walker

Sir John Walker KNZM CBE is a former middle distance runner from New Zealand. Walker was the first person to run the mile in under 3:50 and he won the Olympic Games 1500m in Montreal in 1976.

Walker achieved world prominence in 1974 when he ran second to Filbert Bayi in the 1500 meter run at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand. In one the greatest 1500 m races held to that time, Walker and Bayi both broke the existing world record, and others in the race recorded the fourth, fifth, and seventh fastest performances ever. Additionally, Walker won the bronze medal in the 800 metres in 1:44.92, his lifetime best for the distance, and still the second-fastest New Zealander ever, behind Peter Snell.

Throughout his career as a world-class miler Walker was coached by Arch Jelley, a school principal, and a middle distance runner himself, whose work with runners has been typified by meticulous training programmes on a scientific basis and effective communications in person.

Walker broke the World Record in the mile run with a time of 3:49.4 minutes set at Göteborg, Sweden, on 12 August 1975, bettering the previous time of 3:51.0 set earlier that year by Filbert Bayi. It was the first time that the Three minutes and 50 seconds time had been broken, and it was a full 10 seconds faster than Roger Bannister's historic sub-Four-Minute Mile of 3:59.4 that was run twenty-one years previous. He was named Athlete of the Year by Track and Field News the same year.

Walker's new record lasted until 17 July 1979, when it was lowered by the Briton Sebastian Coe.
The following year Walker broke the world record for the 2000 metres, running 4:51.4 in Oslo, Norway, on 30 June 1976. He smashed the existing ten-year-old record held by Michel Jazy by nearly five seconds; Walker regarded this run as the best he ever ran.

At the Montreal Olympics in 1976 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.

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