Death of region’s athletics icon
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.