February 8, 1935-October 27, 2013
One of the truly legendary figures in track and field passed away this week. Albie Thomas, who many of our readers I'm certain remember as the fellow who paced Herb Elliot to his world record mile of 3:54.4 in Santry, Ireland (Albie had a 3:58.6 in that race) and turned around the next day and set his own world record in the 2 miles (8:32). Small in stature but huge in heart and personality. The inimitable smile and crew cut hair, off the ground style. I never saw a picture of him looking tired and beaten in a race. Stories about him include his purchasing tickets to see the Melbourne Olympics a year in advance, and then finding himself in the 5,000 meter finals the next year placing fifth in that race. His initial racing barefoot until he got some second hand shoes and seeing his times drop. His photographing an iconic picture of John Landy stopping mid race to help up a young Ron Clarke who had fallen, then going on to win the race. The outpouring of stories and sympathies and remembrances of this man say much about how others who knew him, felt about him. The link below is Albie's story in his own words. Such a good man that so many already miss.
I've also included a link from Athletics Ireland relating Albie's visit in 2008 to Ireland and pictures with Ron Delany.
|Lining up for Peter Snell's WR Mile in New Zealand|
Albie is second from left
Photo taken by Albie Thomas of Landy helping Clarke after his fall.
Landy went on to win the race.