Gavin Thorley

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameGavin Howard•Thorley
Used nameGavin•Thorley
Born11 June 1947 in Wellington (NZL)
Died3 July 2022 in Wellington (NZL)
Measurements183 cm / 64 kg
AffiliationsKapiti Running & Tri Club, Paraparaumu (NZL)
NOC New Zealand


Gavin Thorley attended Kapiti College in the early 1960s, before being enrolled at the Wellington Polytechnic School of Design. Following graduation, he worked in media, with several roles at the Evening Post.

Thorley competed in two international cross-country championships for New Zealand, the first in Scotland in 1969, and 1971 in Spain. Later in 1971, Thorley set a new world record in the 10,000 metres. The following year, he was selected to compete at the 1972 München Olympics. It would be his last competitive performance, after he was diagnosed with a defect in his spine which ended his career. Whilst at the Olympics, Thorley witnessed first-hand the Munich massacre from his hotel room. The Israeli team’s accommodation was located next door to the New Zealand team. Thorley was taken out of his room by a German police officer who told him that there had been a shooting.

After the Olympics, Thorley became a property manager, which included managing several shopping centres in New Zealand, before working with local councils in Lower Hutt and New Plymouth.

Personal Bests: 5000 – 13:40.2 (1971); 10000 – 28:44.4 (1972).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1972 Summer Olympics Athletics NZL Gavin Thorley
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 10 h5 r1/2
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) AC h3 r1/2