How Norman Harris Wrote “He Called on it All”

Legend-of-Lovelock

In our blog posting of May 24, 2011, (“He Called On It All” – A Motivational Video for Track Athletes) I provided a video showing Dave Wottle’s dramatic come-from-behind finish in the 1972 Olympic 800 meter final. The video concludes with a quote by Norman Harris – a description of New Zealand miler Jack Lovelocks’s finishing kick to win the 1936 Olympic 1500m in Berlin.

“It came like electricity, it came from every fibre, from his fingertips to his toes.
“It came as broad waters come through a gorge.”.
He called on it all.”

After the blog was posted, Norman Harris, the writer of that dramatic passage, wrote me with a correction on the exact wording of his contribution that was, in fact, from his biography of Jack Lovelock titled, “The Legend of Lovelock” (1964).

In our subsequent discussions, Mr. Harris described some of the process and inspiration that allowed him to write those wonderful words – in my opinion, some of the most powerful in the history of running literature. I thought you’d be interested in reading about it.

The following comes from his memoir, “Beyond Cook’s Gardens (I don’t think it’s available in the US, although it may be available through Amazon, UK). I’ll let Norman Harris take over from here.

“I guess there was an element of inspiration in those words. I had been writing the book in a cafe in a Paris suburb, where I’d shared lodging with some cycling friends. In a recent Memoir, “Beyond Cook’s Gardens”, I recounted the romantic influences on the passage in question. It’s self-indulgent of me to quote it but, encouraged by what you said about getting the blood pulsing, I figured you might be interested

The Lovelock draft moved steadily towards its climax, a chapter titled The Ultimate, for which special inspiration was required. The portable typewriter in my room at the [Cafe] Zanzi was no longer good enough. I needed to go with exercise book and pencil to the Parc de St Cloud, where, near to a splendid fountain, I found a perch on a grand piece of white, marble-like statuary. It was there, with an apron of white, crushed stone surrounding my seat, and with the park’s heavenly grasses rippling in the breeze, and the late afternoon sun aglow, that I found the words to bring Lovelock home.”

I’ve attached the video one more time, for those of who missed it.

 

 

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,Jack Lovelock,Norman Harris,track and field,800m,Dave Wottle, Nick Symmonds[/tags]

“He Called On It All” – A Motivational Video for Track Athletes

It’s track and field championship season. If you’re looking for a video to motivate your runners, check this out. It’s not a high quality production, but it’s set to music and the message is great. It’s called “He Called on it All.”

It shows Olympic 800m champion, Dave Wottle, in his surprise come-from-behind victory at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. It shows Wottle, wearing a white cap, trailing the field by 10m over the 1st lap. It does a nice job of following Wottle in his final 300m as he moves up on the field, then the final 100m in which he overcomes an apparently insurmountable lead to win.

It’s interspersed with video of current American 800m star, Nick Symmonds, running similar tactics at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. He’s wearing a white singlet and black compression shorts.

If this doesn’t get your runners fired up, nothing will.

The video concludes with the quote by Norman Harris – a description of Jack Lovelocks’s finishing kick to win the 1936 Olympic 1500m:

“It came like electricity, it came from every fibre, from his fingertips to his toes.
“It came as broad waters come through a gorge.”.
He called on it all.”

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

P.S. Norman Harris, the author of the wonderful verse that ends this clip has told me that the words shown on the video have become confused. In fact, the correct wording is:

“It came as broad waters come through a gorge.”

Thanks for the feedback, Norman!

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[tags]physical education,track and field,800m,Dave Wottle, Nick Symmonds[/tags]

“Track and Field Coach” Website – A Great Free Resource for Coaches

track and field,physical education

If you’re like most of the track coaches that I know, you’re always searching for new information resources.

So, good news – there’s a new website that provides loads of track and field technique information. Called “Track and Field Coach,” it’s the brainchild of Ron Parker, a Canadian coach from Victoria, BC, with 40 years of experience under his belt.

The site provides free technique articles, video analysis and workout planning tips that are sure to improve your abilities as a coach.

I particularly like the “Event on a Page” articles, that condense the primary technical points for each track and field event on a single page that you can print out and bring to practice.

You can see “Track and Field Coach” at the following link:
http://www.trackandfieldcoach.ca

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,track and field coaching,track and field coaches[/tags]

Why Are There No Timeouts in Endurance Sports?


I watched a basketball game this weekend, in which play was stopped over and over again for timeouts. There were so many timeouts that the final 30 seconds of the game took five minutes to complete.

Typical comments from commentators included: “That was a good timeout. You could see the team needed a breather.”
Or…
“That timeout was perfectly called. Coach needed to change tactics. What a momentum-change that provided.”

Hilary, one of my cross-country runners, takes exception to timeouts in team sports.  In Hilary’s words, “If they can take timeouts in basketball because they’re tired, why not in cross-country?”

Good point. I’d love to be able to call a timeout when my cross-country racers are dropping off the pace and need a break. Or in a middle distance track race, when my runners are boxed-in on the curb. It would make a big difference if I could jump onto the track with my hands in the traditional time-out signal and get the officials to whistle the race to a stop. A 30-second conference  with my athlete with instructions such as:

“I told you to stay off the curb, Joe. Now get back in there and move out of that box!”

And off to the races again, with Joe nicely moving out of his boxed-in position and ready for a kick to the finish.

Alas, I fear this is never to be.  All is not fair in love and war…or, apparently, sport!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]sports humor, sports humour,physical education,timeouts in sport[/tags]

A New Sport? The 100m Hurdles in Swim Fins

HurdleFins_web

100 Hurdles in Swim Fins

There are a number of hybrid sports:  the biathlon combines nordic skiing and shooting; the heptathlon combines seven track and field events; the triathlon combines swimming, cycling and running. So why not another hybrid –  swim-fin-hurdling?

Sound crazy? Yup – but the World record is fast!  In fact, heptathlete Veronica Torr from New Zealand broke the old World mark of 22.35 seconds by flipper-hurdling over the 100m distance in 19.28 seconds. While the world’s non-flippered best run the event in just over 12 seconds and credible high school athletes run in 14, she’s not far off. Especially for a flipper-foot.

You can see the World record, as it was set, in the following video. You’ll notice that, unlike the Olympic hurdles races, that Ms. Torr is grinning ear-to-ear throughout the entire race.

And for those technical hurdle experts out there, you can see the entire race in slow-motion.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]swim fin hurdling,hurdling with swim fins, swim fin hurdles record[/tags]

Thunderstorms, Night Meets, Canada Geese and Fireflies Provide an Unforgettable Experience

Canada-Geese_webI ‘m a track fan and I love night meets. There’s nothing quite like them. The stadium lights turn the track into a giant stage as everything around the track fades into the darkness.  There’s a heightened sense of drama because athletes look like they’re performing under a spotlight.

The wind drops to nothing, there’s a bite to the air, and conditions become perfect for competition. And there’s an elevated sense of anticipation, as if everyone in the stadium is holding their breath, waiting for the next great performance.

Our regional championships were held in my hometown last week, and a lightning-delay forced the meet to linger into the night. Of course, I was delighted by Mother Nature’s intervention. As always, the night competition heightened the track experience, but nature provided two perks that made the evening even more special for me.

As the meet was ending, a large flock of Canada geese flew over the field, barely clearing the stadium roof. A fly-over by the air force couldn’t have been more dramatic. Everyone became silent,  the only sound a chorus of honking and the whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the powerful birds as they thrust the air beneath their wings. They had appeared suddenly, close above us, highlighted in sharp detail beneath the stadium lights and then just as suddenly disappeared into the darkness, their sounds slowly fading into the night. It was definitely a “wow” moment for everyone who witnessed it.

The other special experience happened soon afterward, as I rode my bicycle home, two kilometers down a dirt path.  Pedaling beneath its overhanging canopy, I could barely see the silhouette of the bordering tree trunks as I flew down the path. Suddenly, without warning, I was surrounded by hundreds of fireflies, igniting and disappearing like signal lights in the darkness. Sensing my approach, they moved to the edge of the path and formed a flickering audience for over 200 meters as I pedaled through them, my jaw wide open in awe.

A track meet under the lights … a fly-over by floodlit Canada geese … a flood of fireflies… all in one night!  Life can be good.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]track and field,track & field,night track meets,physical education,Mother Nature,Canada Geese,fireflies[/tags]