Last Updated on January 3, 2023 by Andrew Pirie

The book is by the late athletics statistician Peter Heindenstrom. New Zealand Athletes of the Century

Peter Heidenstrom, who died in 2007, aged 77.

He was New Zealand’s most perceptive and widely published writer on athletics.

And he put his extensive records and encyclopedic knowledge into the most comprehensive book on 100 years of New Zealand Track and Field wrote.

The Century’s athletes were published in 1992 containing detailed information covering 100 years of New Zealand Athletes. At the same time, over 50 years of research went into producing this definitive reference book.

New Zealand Athletes of the Century
Peter Snell 1964 Olympic Gold

And It is also fun to dip into to answer questions like:

  • Did a New Zealand Athlete actually run the first four-minute mile nearly 20 years before Roger Bannister?
  • Which Maori athletes have finished one-two at the Olympics.
  • Why did NZ’s greatest sprinter carry a flask of whiskey with him to the start of races?
  • Why were three of Peter Snell‘s world records ratified when and should have disallowed them…
  • What was the mysterious ‘SMH’ that Jack Lovelock showed up – was it Synthetic Male Hormone, an early form of anabolic steroid?

Athletes of the Century cover each event or group of events in desperate chapters.

And from over 2500 athletes listed. Author Peter Heindesnstrom has picked a ‘dream New Zealand team.’

And, in the final selection, the single most outstanding athlete this country has produced.


Athletics New Zealand. Separate statistical sections document each event and individual performances.

Separate statistical sections document each event and individual performances in a way not previously available anywhere in the world.

While tables catalog all of New Zealand’s most outstanding athletes throughout the history of each event.

And provide all-time ranking lists for any date in the past century.

So this remarkable collection of information is based on nearly 50 years of research by Peter Heidenstrom.

It shows that man and woman for woman New Zealand is the most significant athletic nation globally.



  1. Amazon. Athletes of the century: 100 years of New Zealand track and field Paperback – 1992. retrieved from
  2. McKinnon, M. (15 Jun 2007). Renowned Athletics writer Heidenstrom dies. retrieved from
  3. The National Library. Heidenstrom, Peter Norman 1929-2007. Retrieved from





By Andrew Pirie

Andrew was elected Vice President of the Association of Track and Field Statisticians in 2020 after being a member for 7 years. He has worked as a PSC Consultant and Research Assistant from 2013-2015, Consultant, and Sprint Coach at Zamboanga Sports Academy from 2015-2017. And Currently is Consultant Coach with VMUF 2021- Current editor and chief of, and has recently done consultancy work for Ayala Corp evaluating the Track and Field Program. Coaches Sprints, Middle and Jump events he is  Level 3 Athletics Australia Coaching Certification in Sprints and Hurdles. Currently working towards a Masters Degree in Education. He can be contacted on [email protected] You can find more information on Coaching here

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