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1960 Olympic 5,000-meter champion Murray Halberg dead at 89

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Murray Halberg, who overcame serious injury to win the 5,000-meter gold medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics and later devoted his life to charity work, has died. He was 89.

His death was confirmed by Athletics New Zealand which did not specify a cause. Athletics New Zealand described Halberg as “one of the most iconic names in New Zealand sport.”

Halberg also won gold medals in the three-mile race at the 1958 and 1962 Commonwealth Games and was the first New Zealanders to run a sub-four minute mile.

He achieved all of those successes though his left arm had withered after he was injured playing rugby as a teenager.

He later became best known in New Zealand for his work with the Halberg Trust which helped disabled children play sport. The organization is now known as the Halberg Disability Sports Foundation.

The Halberg Award is presented annually to New Zealand’s Sportsperson of the Year and the Halberg Games are staged over three days each year for athletes aged eight to 21 with a physical or visual disability.

“He was truly a legend of New Zealand athletics,” Sports Minister Grant Robertson said. “But his contribution has been so much more than that.

“In 1963 he established the Halberg Trust to support children with disabilities in sport and recreation. Through the Trust Sir Murray has changed the lives of generations of New Zealanders. The sheer joy that we witness each year at the Halberg Games is vindication of his vision.”

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