Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lovelock and the perfect race

John ("Jack") Edward Lovelock (5 January 1910 – 28 December 1949) was a New Zealand runner who specialised in the 1500 metres. In 1936 he took part in the nazi organised Olympic games held in Berlin. The best athletes from around the world converged in the German capital to compete. The stakes were high as the athletes battled not only for personal fame and glory but for ideas and beliefs that were of worldwide importance at the time. Jesse Owens of course would go on to win four gold medals delivering a message of defiance and black pride in front of Hitler but also in the face of his home country, the United States, where segregation and racism were rampant. 

And then there was also the 1500 metre race. The final turned out to be one of the most memorable events in athletics history. On the starting line there were:
- Glenn Cunningham, the American mile world record holder, 
Bill Bonthron the 1932 Olympic Games 1500m champion, 
Luigi Beccali, the Italian champion, 
Sydney Wooderson, the emerging English champion,
- John 'Jerry’ Cornes, silver medalist in Los Angeles,
Erik Ny, the Swedish champion, 
- Phil Edwards and Gene Venzke, both outstanding Canadian and American athletes. And finally, there was Lovelock. 

The above 1992 New Zealand short film was written by Stuart Hoar, produced by Bruce Sheridan and directed by David Robertson. It brilliantly portrays the way Lovelock decided to surprise the other runners by running a seemingly impossible race. He trained hard to be able to start his sprint early and on the day managed to run the perfect race. Shot in black and white with effective cutting and a lot of atmosphere, this little gem is well worth watching.    

On the 28 of December 1949, Lovelock was hit by a New York city subway train after falling on the tracks. 

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