Death of re­gion’s ath­let­ics icon

Nelson Mail - - News -

The Nel­son ath­lete lauded last year as New Zealand’s old­est liv­ing Olympian has died. Harold Nel­son died on Fri­day night at Oak­woods in Nel­son where he was liv­ing.

Mr Nel­son, who turned 88 in April, was cap­tain of the 1948 Olympic team and car­ried the New Zealand flag into Lon­don’s Wem­b­ley Sta­dium at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the 1948 Olympic Games.

He also won gold and sil­ver medals from the 1950 Em­pire Games, later re­named the Com­mon­wealth Games.

Mr Nel­son, de­scribed as ‘‘the back­bone of ath­let­ics in Nel­son’’, started his Olympic dream af­ter watch­ing a film about the 1936 Ber­lin Olympics and New Zealan­der Jack Love­lock’s vic­tory in the 1500 me­tres.

Mr Nel­son spent 12 years teach­ing at Nel­son Col­lege and six years at Waimea Col­lege, and taught ac­count­ing at the for­mer Nel­son Polytech­nic (now NMIT) un­til his re­tire­ment in 1983.

He coached ath­letes such as New Zealand cham­pi­ons Peter Pear­less, Wally McCal­lum, Lyn­don Chan­dler and Anna and Natasha Buck­ley, and Waimea Col­lege pupil Rod Dixon, who won a bronze medal in the 1500m at the 1972 Olympics.

He re­ceived an MBE for his ser­vices to sport.

Mr Nel­son’s fu­neral will be at Rich­mond’s Head­ingly Cen­tre at 2pm on Thurs­day.

Harold Nel­son

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