Leg­ends mark mile­stone

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS LEE

HE HAD just bro­ken two world records and con­firmed his sta­tus as a le­gend of the Love­lock Track, but Bill Bail­lie cel­e­brated by go­ing straight home to mow the lawns.

The Owairaka Ath­let­ics Club will mark the 50th an­niver­sary of Bail­lie break­ing the ‘‘one hour’’ and 20,000 me­tres records on Satur­day at the ex­act time and on the very same track where he crossed the fin­ish line in 1963.

‘‘It al­most feels like yes­ter­day,’’ Bail­lie says.

He had missed out on qual­i­fy­ing for the 1960 Olympic Games be­cause of in­jury, so the next best thing was to break a world record.

‘‘There was no doubt in my mind that I was go­ing to do it on that par­tic­u­lar day. When it fin­ished and ev­ery­one had gone home I thought I bet­ter go home and mow the lawns.

‘‘You didn’t go cel­e­brate in those days.’’

But it was a huge achieve­ment for the ath­lete and a re­sult of more than a decade of hard work.

‘‘You can’t do it on your own, you have to have good peo­ple be­hind you,’’ he says.

Dou­ble Olympic marathon run­ner Jeff Ju­lian was one of the ath­letes who helped Bail­lie reach his goal.

Both Mt Roskill men, along with the likes of Sir Mur­ray Hal­berg and Sir Peter Snell, were coached by ath­let­ics le­gend Arthur Ly­di­ard and reached the top of their sport thanks to his train­ing meth­ods.

Things are very dif­fer­ent to­day, Ju­lian says.

‘‘We learned that in the dic­tionary work comes be­fore suc­cess and we did a lot of it.

‘‘We could al­most guar­an­tee that we’d achieve what we wanted to achieve be­cause we put those hours in and that’s what’s miss­ing nowa­days.

‘‘I feel we did it and they can do it too,’’ he says.

Ly­di­ard’s ath­letes un­ri­valled con­fi­dence selves, Bail­lie says.

‘‘Our think­ing was we were go­ing to be the best in the world, not just in the coun­try. Liv­ing with that ex­cite­ment and en­joy­ment you just went on and on.’’

It is this com­mit­ment and drive that the Owairaka Ath­let­ics Club had an in them- is hop­ing to in­stil in a new gen­er­a­tion of ath­letes.

The unas­sum­ing club is tucked off San­dring­ham Ex­ten­sion Rd be­tween state houses and the in­dus­trial area of Mt Roskill but has a proud his­tory, club pres­i­dent Syd­ney Mor­row says.

‘‘Owairaka’s achieve­ments in terms of its ath­letes are un­equalled. We are the only club that has four Olympic gold medals in ath­let­ics.

‘‘Cer­tainly in the 60s and 70s, when Jeff was a part of the club, Owairaka re­ally was the bench­mark run­ning club.’’

The club will cel­e­brate its 70th an­niver­sary on Septem­ber 21 and 22. The re­open­ing of the Love­lock Track, which is be­ing resur­faced, will hope­fully lead to a re­build­ing of the club it­self with the fa­cil­i­ties at­tract­ing young run­ners, Mor­row says.

‘‘We can get teenagers at 16 and 17 and say to them in six to 10 years you could be at the Olympics if you’re pre­pared to do the work – there’s no short­cuts but there are step­ping stones and here’s the op­por­tu­nity.’’

A lun­cheon will be held at the club this Satur­day at 11.30am where Bail­lie and Ju­lian will be joined by fel­low Olympians Barry Magee and Ray Puck­ett.

Photo: JESS LEE

Glory days: Mt Roskill ath­let­ics leg­ends Bill Bail­lie and Jeff Ju­lian will cel­e­brate the 50th an­niver­sary of Bail­lie’s two world records to­mor­row.

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