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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 6 (September 1, 1936)

“The Greatest Mile Runner Ever Seen.”

“The Greatest Mile Runner Ever Seen.”

After nearly thirty year? since its first representative competed in a track event at the Olympic Games, New Zealand has had the honour of securing a first place in an Olympic track contest.

And with this first win, the result of a brilliant run by Jack Lovelock, New Zealand's prestige on the sports field stands high.

It is with a natural feeling of pride that New Zealanders have read of the high praise paid Lovelock by leading American and English coaches, and by the one-time incomparable Paava Nurmi himself. Nurmi, the man who introduced the carrying of a stopwatch during a race and running to a set schedule, considers that Lovelock is the greatest mile runner ever seen.

But what makes the New Zealander so outstanding among milers? It is undeniable that he possesses more speed than the majority of champions, that he has an uncanny sense of summing-up the capabilities of the opposition and a supreme confidence in his own capabilities. But it is not any one of the above attributes that makes Lovelock so notable among great athletes.

Few, if any of the past champions, have demonstrated the mental attitude to athletics and to sport in general, that has been typical of the “medical man in a hurry” as he was so aptly termed by an American sports writer. Lovelock runs for the sheer love of running, and success or failure in a race is not gauged by being first or last past the post, but by the enjoyment he has felt in the friendly test of speed. He has been termed the “one race a year athlete” and there can be no denying that the title is a fitting one. And he does not make athletic training or competition intrude on his studies.

Since he first ran into the limelight in England—on May 26, 1932—when he established fresh British Empire figures for the one mile, Lovelock has trained to reach physical fitness at a certain stage, in the season—at the time when he needed all his physical and mental resources to win some important race. And so successful has been his training schedule that he has yet to be found wanting when put to the lest.

In fact, since the Olympic Games in 1932, Lovelock has only been defeated once when fit and well, and that was by Luigi Beccali, the Olympic champion of that time. The New Zealander has certainly been placed second and third in championship races, but invariably it has been noted that he has made no great effort to run “beyond himself” and within a few weeks has completely vanquished his former conquerors.