Monday, November 16, 2009

First great era of miling studied in new book

Conquerors of Time is the story of the first great era of miling from 1932-1936 and culminating in the 1500m at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.

It is the story of the runners who combined to achieve one of the most competitive eras in the sport, predominantly from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and resulting in the most eagerly awaited event at the Berlin Games.

Forget Jesse Owens' triumph, that was expected in the 100m, 200m and long jump. What the masses were waiting for was the race that pitted the Americans, headed by the world record-breaking supremo Glenn Cunningham, Gene Venzke and Archie San Romani, the defending champion from Italy, Luigi Beccali, the Englishmen Sydney Wooderson and the silver medalist in 1932 Jerry Cornes, the Canadian from British Guiana, Phil Edwards and the New Zealander who was a Rhodes Scholar to Oxford University, Jack Lovelock.

Their races, their ups, their downs, their injuries, their lives are all looked at in depth in the lead-up to the race which was going to take a world record to win, but who would the winner be? Even Adolf Hitler didn't want to miss the race, and it was held up while he took his place in his official box.

A revolutionary tactic was unleashed to claim the race, a tactic still in vogue among the top competitors in the 1500m nowadays. Author Lynn McConnell, in his 16th book, studies the lead-up to the event, the plotting that went into winning the race and brings to light new information in the understanding of this unique brotherhood of athletes.

Their lives after the race also provide much fascinating material and McConnell has spanned the globe in the search for information to bring the characters to life. Families have been a great source of information and the story unfolds in a compelling example of sport from a golden era.

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