12 Jul 2016

Snell seeks assurances before donating medals

2:35 pm on 12 July 2016

The Sports Hall of Fame says it won't enter a bidding war with the national museum, Te Papa, for Sir Peter Snell's olympic memorabilia.

The black singlet Peter Snell wore during his twin gold medal runs at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics is going under the hammer.

Te Papa withdrew from the purchase of the singlet. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Sir Peter said yesterday he would offer his two gold medals from the 1964 Olympics to Te Papa, but said this morning he wanted assurances the museum would display them, and not just store them away from public view.

The national museum in Wellington had the winning bid of $122,500 at auction last month for the singlet said to have been worn by the middle-distance runner when he won two gold medals at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

But it withdrew from the purchase because it doubted the item's authenticity.

Te Papa spokesperson Kate Camp said negotiations were yet to begin so it could not commit to a public display.

"I think it would be premature for us to talk now about how the items might go on display, given that we are not 100 percent clear what we are talking about, what the items are, and what Sir Peter's wishes are.

"So, it's really important that Te Papa have that conversation directly with Sir Peter Snell."

Sports Hall of Fame chief executive Ron Palenski said he did not want to get into a bidding war with Te Papa, and he guaranteed the gear would be available for all to see in the Sports Hall of Fame in Dunedin.

"Of course, that is the whole point of being here. People... can come in and see one of his gold medals and other stuff related to him today, right now."

Sir Peter Snell pictured in 2009

Sir Peter Snell Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Sir Peter told Morning Report today he had reacted in the immediate aftermath of the Te Papa bid for the singlet, and before donating his medals wanted assurances over how the museum would use or display the items.

"In the heat of the moment, and feeling very flattered about what Te Papa did, I had made the comment that if they're prepared to go that far on my singlet then they deserve to have the medals to go with it."

However nothing was "cast in stone".

"I do have some interesting memorabilia that I think might be of interest and I would like it rather than to be here ... some of the stuff I think belongs to New Zealand."

They included two of the remaining Olympic medals - one of which is in the Sports Hall of Fame.

"As far as Te Papa is concerned ... if they are interested would probably want them to make a proposal on how they might want to be using such memorabilia."

The other option would be the Sports Hall of Fame, which already has the Tokyo Olympic medal.

Peter Snell, centre, won gold in the men's 1500 metres in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Pictured on the podium with, at left, Josef Odlozil (Cze) and  bronze-medal winner John Davies (NZL).

Peter Snell, centre, won gold in the men's 1500 metres at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Pictured on the podium with, at left, Josef Odlozil (Cze) and bronze-medal winner John Davies (NZL) Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Te Papa spokesperson Kate Camp said earlier that the national museum had been in touch with Sir Peter in the past few weeks, and said it had been "a bit of an emotional rollercoaster".

"We were all excited to think that there was an item like the singlet coming into the national collection and to hear now that we've got these items that can come in and tell Peter Snell's amazing story - it's just a great happy ending."

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