If born in a different age, Walker could of dominated the globe with his athletic prowess, but with being a competitive athlete within the ‘boom’ of middle distance running, one can get overlooked.
The Kiwi – best know for his performances over the mile distance – was a very talented athlete, demonstrated by lighting fat 800m and 5000m personal bests standing at 1:44:92 and 13:19:28 respectively, a feat not many athletes can accomplish.
Walker was relatively unknown before 1974, but achieved world prominence in the Commonwealth Games of that year – competing in the 1500m and 800m. In the 1500m, Walker was involved in one of the greatest races of all time over the Metric Mile, coming in second behind Filbert Bayi, with both men bettering the previous world record in the event. In the 800m in the same games, Walker claimed bronze. A rather profound first impression on the global stage.
After 1974, Walker started to show his dominance over the Mile distance (1609.33m) breaking the World Record in 3:49.4, the first man to break the 3:50 barrier, a full 10 seconds faster than Sir Roger Bannisters race to remember (3:59.4). After developing an obvious ‘taste’ for the distance, competing in over 100 mile races over the next eleven years – consequently becoming the first man in history to break 4 minutes in 100 separate races.
In the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, Walker was selected to represent New Zealand in both the 800m and 1500m. Failing to proceed to the 800m final, he had his eyes set on the 1500m final. As his main rival Bayi was involved in the boycott of the Games, Walkers new threat came in the form of the Englishman- Steve Ovette – the worlds fastest 1500m runner at the time. A valiant battle rewarded Walker with the Gold medal. Unfortunately, this was the last we saw of Walker on the International scene, but he certainly left his mark. If Walker was born in a different time, he may of stayed on the international scene, but at the time there were so many fast athletes around that Walker was best suited to chasing times in the Mile.
After retirement, Walker became involved in his local government. After that, he ran his own Equestrian shop. Born 12th of January 1952, Walker is an athlete to remember.