Nearly 80 years later, it is still considered one of the greatest races ever run; a pursuit that even its modest New Zealand champion described as an artistic creation.

It was August 6, 1936, when Jack Lovelock, a slightly-built young doctor who hailed from South Canterbury, brought a crowd of 100,000 to their feet; the onlookers screaming wildly as he broke through the finishing tape in the Olympic 1500m final in Berlin.  

Never have I known such tumultuous excitement, wrote the correspondent for Londons Daily Telegraph.

Not only had 27-year-old Lovelock outclassed a field of the worlds best middle-distance runners in the Olympiastadion - and claimed New Zealands first Olympic gold in athletics - he had also stripped a full second off the 1500m world record. 

Lovelocks performance that day not only thrilled the crowd Adolf Hitler among them - but it inspired the people of a nation half a world away.  Here was an almost frail-looking young man who had excelled at Timaru Boys High School, whod travelled across the world to study at one of the most prestigious universities, and built a reputation as one finest runners the world had seen.

Although he had already set a world mile record and won gold in the mile at the 1934 Empire Games, the Berlin 1500m was the apex of an outstanding athletics career. Having broken from the pack with 300m still to go, Lovelock left his keenest rivals, American ironman Glenn Cunningham and the reigning Olympic champion Italian Luigi Beccali, well in his wake. In his meticulously-kept diary, Lovelock wrote of that day: It was undoubtedly the most beautifully executed race of my career, a true climax to eight years steady work, an artistic creation.

But it would be one of his final races. The Rhodes Scholar, now a medical student at St Marys Hospital in London, found it difficult to devote himself to both athletics and medicine. Although he retired from the track two months later, his exquisitely-paced, seemingly-effortless Olympic victory would live on in history. 

Lovelocks record of 3m 47.8s stood for five years. Todays world record, of 3m 26s, has been held by Moroccan legend Hicham El Guerrouj since 1998. 

The boy from Timaru continues to inspire. Nick Willis like Lovelock, a dedicated student of athletics continues New Zealands proud tradition in the 1500m, carried by the likes of Peter Snell, John Davies, Rod Dixon and John Walker. Willis set a new national record of 3m 29.66s at last months Monaco Diamond League the fifth fastest in the world this year. 

Berlin 1936 Olympic Summer Games Jack Lovelock
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