I have thoroughly enjoyed the Tokyo Olympics on TV and as I watched the athletics it brought back memories of the days when I could run, jump and throw things well enough to get me national recognition, but not quite to the standards expected of an Olympian.
On a number of occasions I represented Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Decathlon. However one match against Holland in Vlardingen, 1963, is carved into my memory, as that was the day when I demolished a hurdle in the 110 metre race and as a result met a legend of track and field. Normally a hurdle will tip over when you hit it, but I had clattered this one so hard, it split apart and flew off the uprights!
Back at the start collecting my gear, an elderly blond haired lady came over, showed me the bits of what used to be the top of the hurdle and said with a smile, “What shall we do with this?” After a classic double take to confirm my first impression, I knew she was Fanny Blankers-Koen – the legendary Dutch winner of 4 gold medals in the 1948 Olympics. So I replied by asking her to sign the two bits, which she did, smiled again and handed them to me. Later I got some of the other competitors to autograph them. The photos below are only highlighted details of the pieces as both sides of them are covered with my fellow competitors autographs.
Little did I know that on that same trip, the bonny young lassie Mary Peters, standing next to me in the photograph below, would, at the Munich Olympics in 1972 – become the Gold medallist in the Pentathlon.
What a joy that was to watch!
Follow this link – Mary Peters (MBE) to see just how this delightfully mischievous young athlete is now a legend herself.
|110 metre hurdles is a recognised event where speed and dexterity are required to complete the challenge. The hurdles are 42 inches/3.6 feet high and that is quite intimidating when you stand next to one of these jumps, never mind having to get your lead leg over it, while sprinting at speed!|
You don’t jump up and over, you actually drive your lead leg through the air to complete the obstacle, and this is when I hit the willow, smashing it in half!