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

Panorama of the Playground — Lovelock's Great Victory

page 66

Panorama of the Playground
Lovelock's Great Victory.

“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.

Lovelock's Career.

Lovelock was born at Reefton on January 5, 1910. His primary school days were served at Temuka and Fairlie. At the age of 12 years he was dux of the Fairlie School and had his science notebook selected for representation at the Wembley Exhibition, when a pupil at Fairlie High School.

Throughout his scholastic career, it is noticed that he has been outstanding in sport, but—and more important —outstanding, too, in the field of learning.

Railway excursionists on the way to Arthur's Pass (the Aloine playground of Canterbury halt for refreshment at Springfield station).

Railway excursionists on the way to Arthur's Pass (the Aloine playground of Canterbury halt for refreshment at Springfield station).

At that great sporting cradle, Timaru Boys’ High School, where he represented his school at football, cricket, athletics, boxing, tennis, swimming. fives and gymnastics, Lovelock passed his various examinations including Solicitors’ General Knowledge and Medical Preliminary.

In 1927, he was placed third for New Zealand on the credit list for University, his career has been one of success, hard-earned. Success on the track 1928, he was dux of the Timaru Boys’ High School and won a New Zealand University National Scholarship.

From Timarti Boys’ High School, to Otago University, to Oxford University, his career has been one of success hard earned. Success on the track and success in his chosen sphere—the medical profession—and success made more meritorious because of his unchanged outlook and level-headedness.

Lovelock has gone a long way as an athlete; some say that it is impossible for any mortal man to do better, but his greatest success may be in the medical world. Men capable of expressing opinions have made no secret that Lovelock is destined to be known as a great figure in circles outside the sporting fields. And New Zealand will wish him well.

Sport in General.

The Australian Rugby representative team will be touring New Zealand during this season and cementing still stronger the bonds of friendship that has long existed in sport between the two countries. The team includes a page 67 sprinkling of New Zealanders, including Tom Pauling, a son of a former New Zealand representative. The younger edition was one of New South Wales’ best junior field event athletes.

* * *

When the Canadian schoolboy athletes competed in New Zealand after a successful meeting in Melbourne, few New Zealanders realised that no less than three members of the team would be representing Canada at the Olympic Games two years later. But, so it proved. Sammy Richardson, the Negro athlete who celebrated his sixteenth birthday in Wellington—and he was already the British Empire Champion broad jumper—John Loaring, hurdler, and Howard McPhee, sprinter, all wore the Maple Leaf in Berlin, and all performed well. Loaring filled second place in the 400 metres hurdles and sixth place in the 400 metres flat, while Richardson qualified for the final of the broad jump. McPhee went out in the semi-finals of the 100 metres sprints.

Canada has long shown great interest in the welfare of the schoolboy athletes, and has in Dr. Lamb, who managed the team to New Zealand, an outstanding figure in the amateur athletic world.

* * *

It is given to few sporting combinations to go through a fairly long tour without scoring a single success and still attract good attendances. Such is the record that fell to the lot of the Fijian Women's hockey team which has just concluded a tour of New Zealand. The Test Match played against New Zealand at Wellington in August saw the visitors defeated by four goals to nil after a determined game, and a game that showed the visiting team to be comprised of a band of players worthy of high praise. The wet weather experienced by the players, who could not adapt themselves to the strange conditions, was in no small manner responsible for the succession of defeats chalked up against them, but with the spirit of good sportsmanship pre-eminent, they played each game as it should be played—and earned the admiration of all New Zealanders. The world is the better for possessing good losers; it is easy to be a good winner!

* * *

New Zealand is fast becoming the Mecca for Australian boxers, and each steamer from across the Tasman seems to bring one or more additions to the ranks of the active glovesters. Pleasing, too, is the indication that New Zealand sportsmen are beginning to show renewed interest in the doings of the New Zealand boxers who have had a lean time for the past five or six years. Joe Hall, one of the best feather-weights in Australia, could not do better than share the decision with New Zealand's own star, Billy Aitken, and although few expected the local product to last out the journey, the return bout is expected to set a new indoor gate record for the past five or six years. Boxing, as a box-office attraction, has one great advantage over wrestling—it is possible for “local champions” to be pitted against visiting boxers in almost every district in the land. New Zealand has but few wrestlers capable of extending visiting matmen; its boxers are not to be passed over with scorn.

* * *

It has been said that the first thing a group of Australians will do on settling in a strange country is to form a racing club; New Zealanders, it is claimed, will form a Rugby football club. Sport seems to be bred into the Wood of New Zealanders and Australians, and the natural instinct undoubtedly leads in the direction of endeavouring to excel on the performances of the teacher. This has never been better demonstrated than in tbe sport of wrestling. “Lofty” Blomfield, who learned the rudiments of wrestling in Auckland, and in turn received valuable experience under the eye of Tom Lurich and Dan Koloff, has “invented” the most destructive hold seen in wrestling this season. He has won many matches with his specialty, which may yet win for him the much-publicised British Empire wrestling title. Another New Zealander to “invent” a match-winning hold is Dick Godfrey, a Wellington policeman, whose effort has been characterised by visiting American wrestlers as something right out of the ordinary. Show a New Zea'ander a hold or two. and lie will try to do one better! Koolman, one of the cleverest wrestlers seen in these Islands, has a real match winning hold —the “supless.” This was first used by a New Zealander who resided at Feilding and later travelled to Europe where the hold was used with great success by European wrestlers.

* * *

The long-distance cycle races are due to start in New Zealand in the next few weeks. But what a contrast the Palmerston North to Wellington race is now to what it was when it was first held ten years ago! Then the roads were gravel ones and not bitumenised. The hills were sometimes sticky masses of clay and the 102 miles course was 102 miles in length, Improyed roading conditions and the straightening out of winding roads has made the race faster, but no easier. The “plugger” did have a chance in 1926, but 1936 is the day of speed all the way. To win a race from Palmerston North to Wellington, it has been said that a “cyclist must start off at top speed and gradually increase the pace!” The speed at which cyclists travel during this race would amaze the average reader. The writer has left Palmerston North in a car at the same time as the scratch bunch—about one hour after the limit or “weaker” riders have started—and although the speedometer has shown up to fifty miles per hour, has not caught the limit men until the Paekakariki Hill has been reached, about 70 miles away.