Sunday, March 23, 2014

Vol. 4 No. 20 Tracking Willem 'Wim' Slijkhuis, a Picture from 1960, and a Quote from Bruce Dern on Limits in Running

George, I have been talking to Curtis Stone. He said Chick Werner (40's/50's Penn State coach) had his own shoe co. making track spikes. He also said that Wim Slykhuis (Flying Dutchman) gave him spikes once. I am trying to find a good picture of Wim. He was bronze medalist in 48 1500m and 5000 London. He ran a lot in the USA on the boards indoors like 49, 50, 51, 52 era.  I'm trying to find results of the 1951 Washington Evening Star meet like Jan. 51.   Supposely they had mile race with  Bannister other Uk guys, Don Gehrman, and Wim. The spikes I have of Bill Ashenfelter are same spikes I see Wim wore and Fanny Blankers Koen wore. I wrote to the Dutch Federation to see if they knew..MAKER??
Phil Scott

Sports Reference lists the following for Slijkhuis
Willem Frederik "Wim" Slijkhuis
Gender: Male
Height: 5'9" (174 cm)
Weight: 137 lbs (62 kg)
January 13, 1923 in
Leiden, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
Died: June 28, 2003 (Aged 80) in Badhoevedorp, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Affiliations: AAC, Amsterdam (NED)
Country: NED 
Medals: 2 Bronze (2 Total)

Hans Harting and Wim Slijkhuis

Wim Slijkhuis

Wim Slijkhuis had the following podium finishes at major championships: 3rd in the 1948 Olympics 1500 metres, 3rd in the 1948 Olympics 5000 metres; 1st in the 1950 European Championships 1500 metres, 2nd in the 1946 European Championships 5000 metres.
Personal Bests: 1500 – 3:43.8 (1949); 5000 – 14:14.0 (1946).

Here is a picture we recently received from Earl Young.   It was taken at Eugene, Oregon at one of the pre-Olympic meets after the 1960 Olympic Trials and before their departure for Rome.  Thanks, Earl.

Coach Oliver Jackson, Earl Young, Ralph Boston, Jerry Siebert, Frank Budd, Jim Beatty at Pre-Olympic Meet
Eugene, 1960

In a recent posting  (   Vol. 4 No. 15   )  we talked a bit about the actor Bruce Dern and his experience on the track running for the U. of Pennsylvania in the mid 1950's.   I found his biography  Things I've Said, But Probably Shouldn't Have and of course looked for things he said and probably shouldn't have  about those days.  One of the chapters is titled "You Can Train All You Want, But the Watch Don't Lie"  has some words that will remind many of our less than elite running readers about  discovering that   you probably won't fulfill your dreams.  Here is Bruce Dern's.

Page 19

  My sophomore year at Penn I'm running against guys in the Ivy League.  In my area, I have the three best half-milers alive (in varsity races ed.) , which means I do very well my freshman year.  Don't lose any races.  In my sophomore year , my first race is in a quadrangular meet-- Villanova, Fordham, Pitt, and Penn.  It's an indoor race at a convention hall in downtown Philadelphia, where the Warriors played.  The first race is a thousand yards which is the indoor equivalent of an 880, which is seven laps on the boards.  I'm a hero on the campus.  I finish fourth.  I haven't been fourth in a long, long time.  I don't cry.  I realized who beat me.  But nobody else does.  I never recovered from that day in front of my friends, in front of the school, because to Madigan, to Segil, to all the friends I grew up with, I was fourth in an eight-man race.  All three of the guys ahead of me, the next summer, won medals in the Olympic games, including two gold:  Tom Courtney in the 800 meters and Ron Delany in the 1500 meters.  From that day on, track didn't mean the same to me.  That was the beginning of my disillusionment with running.  The extra workouts, the extra mileage, no one trained harder than I did.  No one.  Not at Penn, not in America, no one in the world trained any harder than I did.  I realized I wasn't as good as I thought I was.  I wasn't blessed with certain things..

You can train all you want, but you get to a point where the guys get separated, and you're still only this good.  The watch doesn't lie.  That's the great denominator.

I tried out but I wasn't good enough to make the Olympic team. (No indication that Dern actually ran in the Olympic trials  ed.)   I was in an era when America dominated the 800 meters worldwide.  In '56 which would have been my year, we had three guys finish first, second, and fifth.  (Purists will note that Americans finished 1, 4, 6 in that race.  Tom Courtney 1st,  Arnie Sowell 4th,  Lon Spurrier 6th  ed.)

Mal Whitfield, who had won the Olympic gold medal in '48 and '52 was the first alternate at 40 years old.  Here I am, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, standing on a track next to Mal Whitfield, and when I was in the fourth grade, Mal Whitefield was world champion.  When the race started, all I was looking at was his ass.  I could never get by him.  I pulled even with him.  He looked at me and saw this guy running with this little simple "P" on his shirt for Penn, and went,  'What the fuck is this guy doing next to Mal Whitfield?"  He decided it's time to slip a gear.  He dropped it down one and went  phooo, and he was gone.  I suddenly realized, well, Bruce, that's that.  There are those who can move, and there are those who can really move,.  You're not one of them. 

Familiar feelings.  50 years ago when in my mid 30s I was about to quit as I was not improving when I stumbled upon a book by Percy Cerrutti .  In it he maintained that living athletically was its own reward and being without talent was not a reason not to do so.  I took that to heart and think it was beneficial. "   Richard Trace

1 comment:

skwilli said...

"Sometimes, hard work is its only reward." -Coach Harry Groves.

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