Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vol. 2 No. 4 Ernie's Read on Day One

Switzerland and Day One in Rome

A pre meet race in Switzerland gave me some courage at trying a negative split. I heard an Italian coach shout out the lst lap pace, 55.5 and immediately picked up the pace with an amazing for me, 52.6 for a 1:48.1. This was only my 2nd negative splitrace and I debated if I should try this in Rome. Max Truex provided some comic relief on one of the bus sightseeing trips when at one of the rest stops, he dove into the lake by the road as if was quite hot that day. Coach George Eastment told Max that if he weren't such a wild man he might run faster. (At Rome he did!)

The trip from Switzerland to Rome was on a train rather than flying. Gorgeous Mt scenery. Turned out that the gang of Olympic Officials only wanted to see the Swiss and Italian Alps for when we got to the Italian plains, all of them got off and flew the restof the way while the athletes and coaches stayed on the train for the hot dreary trip down to Rome.

lst Day: With a 6 lane track for some reason the Officials decided to run only 6 athletes in each heat instead of easily expanding the field to more runners. Thus we had a morning heat and an afternoon quarterfinal on the same day. This seemed OK with me as I figured my mile background would make me as strong as any of the others. Then I saw my trial heat. Most heats went in the low 1:50s but a 1:53.4 and a 1:52.1 won two heats. My heat had only 4, with 3 to qualify. Christian Waegli of Switzerland and I were probably the fastest and Istvan Rozsavolgyi (spelling can be Rosavolgyi) of Hungary was merely in it to get one last speed workout for his 1500. The last runner was a little known New Zealander named Peter Snell. Since Donald Smith from New Zealand was the country record holder, Snell being their 2nd string entrant was really no concern to most people. So off we went.

Unfortunately Waegli and I were both front runner types so we battled back and forth until the final straight, pushed by Rozsavolgyi with the expected non qualifier Snell toward the back.
L-R Ernie Cunliffe, Peter Snell, Christian Waegli, Istvan Rozsavolgyi

Down the straight someone in black shot by us and won in 1:48.1 a New Zealand record. Waegli and I let up and had sort of a after you, no after you contest and both finished in 1:48.8 with Waegli given 2nd. Rozsavolgyi was 1:49.4 which would have won all but one other of the 9 heats.

The afternoon quarterfinals finally woke up the Officials and they ran 7 runners in 2 of the 4 races. Murphy took the fastest with a 1:48.0 with the same time as Waegli. Matuschewski of Germany was .1 back. He by the way has the same birthday as I did, Sept 2nd, which
would be the day of the 800 Meter Finals. Both of us having a Happy Birthday?? Schmidt of Germany won a tactical 1:51.2 with Siebert running smart for 3rd in 1:51.3. My 3rd quarter was won by Kerr in 1:49.4, my 1:49.7 was 2nd and Tony Blue the last qualifier in 1:49.9
A notable non qualifier in 6th was Ron Delany in 1:51.1. Roger Moens won the last quarter in 1:48.5, defeating Snell by .1 Track fans were rapidly realizing that this guy Snell, a former New Zealand Jr Tennis player was for real, but could he win it all?

So it was on to Sept 1st for the Semis, a notable day in that it was my Father's 51st birthday and I planned a big present for him, to qualify for the Finals on the 2nd. I should have known that being a day late on the 2nd for my birthday that I would be a bit late in the semis but unfortunately for me Roy will get to that and share it with you with some of my insider comments.

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