Famed New Zealand Olympic middle-distance runner Peter Snell has died in Dallas at age 80, the New Zealand Herald reported on Saturday.
The newspaper reported sports historian and friend Ron Palenski confirmed Snell had died at his Texas home on Thursday after years of heart problems.
Palenski said Snell`s wife Miki had telephoned him to share the news.
Snell, considered New Zealand`s greatest athlete, won three Olympic gold medals. He took the 800 metres at the 1960 Rome Games and won both the 800 and 1,500 metres at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
He is the only man since 1920 to have won both events at the same Olympics.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Snell was "a legend, here and around the world. Our thoughts are with Sir Peter`s wife Miki and their family."
?Under the guidance of famed coach Arthur Lydiard, Snell became one of the most dominant middle-distance runners in history.
He set world records in the mile and 800 metres and also won dual gold at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth.
Snell was preparing to celebrate his 81st birthday on Tuesday.
His wife Miki told New Zealand`s Stuff her husband was having a good day on Thursday, despite a health scare last month when he passed out while driving and crashed into several parked vehicles.
"He felt good, he had gone and done some activities, and was planning on doing more - he wanted to play table tennis," Miki told the publication. "He lay down to watch the news on TV and fell asleep.
"I tried to wake him up but he wouldn`t move. The paramedics came in about five minutes but they couldn`t wake him."