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