WELLINGTON - New Zealand athlete William “Bill” Baillie, who once held world records in the now obscure 20,000-meter and one-hour running events, has died. He was 84.
Athletics New Zealand said Baillie died on Christmas Day.
At the time Baillie broke the records they had a higher status than today and were held by Czech great Emil Zatopek.
Baillie set both marks in the same race in Auckland in 1963. In one hour he covered 20.19 km, after reaching the 20-km mark in 59 minutes, 28.6 seconds.
In 2013 he recalled that “there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to do it on that particular day. When it finished, and everyone had gone home, I thought I better go home and mow the lawns.”
Baillie competed in the 5,000 at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics where he finished sixth. He also competed in four Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954, ’58, ’62 and ’66.
A versatile distance runner, Baillie won 12 national titles in New Zealand from the 880 yards to six miles.
No cause of death has been released but an item published online Friday in the obituaries section of The New Zealand Herald said Baillie “passed away peacefully in his sleep … Bill has just finished the race of his life, and only he knows what his time was.”