65 year ago tonight Santry was put on the athletics World map. August 6th 1958 Australia’s Herb Elliott set a World Mile record of 3.54.5.
Billy Morton had put together the ‘August International Sports’ assembling a field of the best milers in the world: Ronnie Delany, the 1500m Olympic Champion, Albie Thomas, the world three mile record holder, Herb Elliott, the Commonwealth 1500 metre champion and the ‘World’s Best Miler’, Merv Lincoln, Dave Power, both from Australia and Murray Halberg of New Zealand.
The event captured the sports mad Dublin public attracting some 25,000 spectators into the newly constructed Santry Stadium. From the gun Albie Thomas, who had set a World 3 mile record in the stadium a month earlier took up the running driving the field through 880 yards in 1.58. Elliott hit the front on the back straight of the 3rd lap holding the lead and heading into the home straight for the final time:
“I whizzed round the turn and could feel someone dogging me. It could have been Lincoln. It could have been Delany. I didn’t care. I felt I could hold whoever it was. And then there was the tape coming closer and closer. I was through with the shouts of 20,000 Irishmen ringing in my ears. I looked over at the timekeepers and they were bouncing up and down unable to restrain their excitement. One of them rushed over his face flushed ‘fantastic!’ ‘it’s just fantastic! your time is 3:54.5!’ (The Golden Mile, H. Elliott)
Not only was this a new world record but for the first time in history 5 men in the same race ran sub 4: Herb Elliott 1st 3:54.5, Merv Lincoln 2nd 3:55.9, Ronnie Delany 3rd 3:57.5, Murray Halberg 4th 3:57.5, Albie Thomas 5th 3:58.6. (All this by the way only some 4 years after the Roger Bannister`s historic sub 4)