Sunday, January 24, 2010

Conquerors of Time Review (2)

Roberto Quercetani's Review of Conquerors of Time (Translation

In these days of hustle and bustle there is an element of great joy in seeing a book dedicated to great middle distance athletes of over 70 years ago, especially one that has on it’s cover a great picture of Luigi Beccali and Jack Lovelock in perfect unison at the head of the pack at the Universiade of Turin in 1933.

This was an indeed a great era, one during which the Italian equalled the world record of 3’49’’2 in the 1500 events.

One could think that the efforts of those athletes pales into insignificance when compared to those of today and that their achievements should be just an obsolete memory, but in sport as in life, every generation is judged by its achievements and this book pays tribute to great athletic achievements of the day.

Lynn McConnell from New Zealand is a historic journalist who has a strong attraction to the era and to the small group of middle distance runners that dominated the 1500m/one mile events between 1932 and 1936.

Jack Lovelock, a New Zealander, is the principle subject of the study as the era culminated in his victory in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and a world record of 3’47”8 ahead of the American Glenn Cunningham and our own Beccali.

All the great races of the period are analysed with great attention to detail starting with Beccali’s victory in the Los Angeles games of 1932. The author has travelled the world and has contacted the descendants of his ‘heroes’ reconstructing in great detail the ‘entourage’ in which they lived and operated.

To the most common names are added those of other great athletes of the age such as the Americans Bill Bonthron and Gene Venzke and the Englishmen Sydney Woodersoon and Jerry Cornes. The entire group is carefully dissected in splendid detail by the author.

The men who ran in those days did so purely for enjoyment and National pride, but in doing so created history and in many cases formed great friendships that lasted for many years.

Lovelock, who died tragically under a train in the New York Metro, is one of the athletes who have attracted the curiosity of historians - Of the books dedicated to him this is the most profound.

No comments: