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'Greatest miler in the world'

Timaru (New Zealand) Herald—January 12, 2010

Timaru last week marked the 100th anniversary of Olympic champion Jack Lovelock's birth. This week, Past Times page looks at how the champion's life ended.

On December 28, 1949, former Olympic champion mile runner, the New Zealander, Dr JE Lovelock, was killed by a subway train.

The police said that Dr Lovelock apparently suffered from an attack of dizziness and fell from a station platform in Brooklyn in front of a Coney Island-bound train.

Dr Lovelock was on the staff of the Manhattan Hospital for Special Surgery.

Dr Lovelock had not recently taken any active part in athletics, but was still keenly interested in them. Last summer, he had acted as an official at a meeting between a combined team of Oxford and Cambridge Universities against Princeton and Cornell.

Dr Lovelock met his wife, an American, while she was working with the United Services Organisation overseas. He was then a major in the Royal Army Medical Corps. There are two children.

In the garden plot at the Timaru Boys' High School is a fitting memorial to the greatest runner New Zealand has ever produced, Dr Lovelock.

It is the Olympic oak presented to him at the climax of his athletic career when he won the 1500 metres (the metric mile) at the 1936 Olympic Games at Berlin in the world record time of 3min 47.8sec.

Today, the Lovelock Oak is a sturdy young tree growing in front of the playing fields on which he first gained fame.

Beneath the tree is a plaque recording the feat at the Games of a man who first discovered that he might be a little faster than his fellow men when a secondary schoolboy in Timaru.

This story originally appeared at stuff.co.nz.


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