Honouring Rod Dixon
Rodney Dixon is an extraordinary human being. As a good-looking (1970s style) 21 year-old from the top of the South Island Rod followed in the tradition of Lovelock, Snell, and Davies by medaling in the men’s Olympic 1500m in Munich in 1972. Sir John Walker and Nick Willis have followed that great tradition of course.
Commonwealth Games 1974
At the Christchurch Commonwealth Games 1974 Rod was a part of one of the greatest 1500m races of all time with great Tanzanian front-runner Filbert Bayi sprinting from the gun and barely fading to win gold, breaking the world record and be chased home by John Walker, Ben Jipcho and Rod.
Olympics in Montreal 1976
Fourth place in the 5000m at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal was another great performance – in a race won by Lasse Viren with Dick Quax in second.
Moscow Olympics 1980
A New Zealand boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics cost Rod the chance of a great 5000m result when he was in incredible shape. It also cost John Walker the chance to race to defend his 1500m gold from the likes of Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe. Rod raced spectacularly in US road racing with NZ women Anne Audain, Lorraine Moller and Allison Roe also super-stars. With an extensive background in cross-country running – including two world-championship medals – plus a great deal of Lydiard style training (guided by older brother John) Rod turned to the Marathon and started by winning in Auckland in 1982 (it should be noted that his time was only 1 hour and seven minutes faster than my best).
New York City Marathon 1983
The 1983 New York City Marathon is Rod Dixon’s magnum opus. A piece of art as well as a tremendous sporting achievement. Two minutes down with 10km to go those of us watching on our screens admired another great performance and sympathized with the inevitable nearly man result. The rest is – as those prone to cliches say – is history.
Los Angeles Olympics 1984
In 1984 at the Los Angeles Olympics Rod finished 10th and his final international race was the 1988 world cross-country championships.
Hall of Fame 1996
Since the ending of his running career Rod Dixon has never been far from athletics and inspires the next generations with a fantastic Rod Dixon’s Kids Marathon programme in New Zealand and throughout the USA.
In 1996 Rod was inducted into the NZ Sports Hall of Fame.