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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 6 (September 2, 1935)

Savidan—The Cross Country Empire Runner

Savidan—The Cross Country Empire Runner.

Although W. Savidan, the Auckland marvel, was beaten back to sixth place in the Australian Cross-country Championship in a race run in very fast time, he has such a wonderful record that we all trust and believe that this was only a passing aberration on his part.

He first won the New Zealand Cross-country Championship in 1927, at Christchurch, and the next year he won again at Wanganui in a great race where the world record holder, Randolph Rose, was his chief opponent. A month ago he won the title for the sixth time, the only occasions he did not win it since 1927 being the two years he was out of New Zealand at the Empire or Olympic Games, and in 1934, when he did not defend the title although in New Zealand at the time. In 1930, he won the six mile Empire Championship in Canada in record time for the Empire, and in 1932, at the Olympic Games, he was fourth in both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres races, in each case being the first British athlete to finish.

The Australian race, it is reported, was run over what could hardly be regarded as a true “cross-country” course. Savidan is a good track runner over distances above two miles, but it is in the real “cross-country” work that he has achieved his great successes and it is difficult to credit that Pullar, the Otago champion who came second in the Australian race, or any of the four Australians who headed him, would be able to beat Savidan over the real country when our champion was at his best.

In any case Savidan's past performances stamp him as one of the gamest distance runners New Zealand has ever bred, and his modest and sterling personality makes him one of the most respected athletes of his day. If all goes well he will have undeniable claims to represent New Zealand again in the next Olympic contests at Berlin next year, and it is the duty of the New Zealand Amateur Athletic heads to see that the path is made smooth for his journey if he retains his old form.