p pol The Adventures of Carboman: Arthur Leslie Lydiard - RIP

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Arthur Leslie Lydiard - RIP

by Greg Cunningham

Arthur Lydiard
July 6, 1917 - December 11, 2004

Arthur Lydiard of Auckland, New Zealand passed away from an apparent heart attack Saturday, December 11, 2004 in Houston, Texas. Lydiard, 87, was on the last part of his six to eight week U.S. Tour doing what he was absolutely passionate about and helped revolutionize - running and the principles applied to it.

Arthur started out as a milkman and rugby player and eventually started to gain notoriety as a runner and eventually global attention as a coach. In the 1950s, Lydiard developed a training system based on building a large aerobic base, hill bounding and anaerobic sharpening. Many so-called experts in the sport scoffed at his principles. He coached local runners known as "Arthur's Boys" to numerous Olympic medals and several world records. His most notable achievement came in the 1960 Rome Olympics when Peter Snell (800 meters) and Murray Halberg (5,000 meters) both captured gold, less than one hour apart from each other. Barry McGee also garnered a bronze medal in the Marathon. In the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Snell captured gold in the 800m and 1,500m with John Davies taking the bronze in the 1,500m. In the 1976 Montreal Olympics, John Walker captured the 1,500m gold medal. Peter Snell and Sir Murray Halberg are his best-known proteges, but Lydiard also inspired a generation of top New Zealand runners through the late-1960s and 1970s, including Dick Tayler, Rod Dixon, Dick Quax and John Walker.

Despite efforts by New Zealand administrators to keep him in New Zealand, Lydiard took a coaching position with the Mexican Federation in 1965, and moved to Finland in 1967, laying the foundations for that nation's running successes of the 1970s. Lydiard also introduced his coaching principles to Bill Bowerman from the U.S. who would later become well known at the University of Oregon and co-founder of Nike, Inc.

Olympian Dick Quax said Lydiard was a great New Zealander. "He was without doubt the greatest coach that this country has ever produced." Quax, although not coached by Lydiard personally, said he was a great motivator. "After you'd spoken to Arthur, you could run through brick walls." He said Lydiard's greatest contribution was his system of training, based on long, steady running rather than the interval training favoured by European and American coaches.

John Walker, Olympic 1500m champion in 1976, said Lydiard was a pioneer of fitness regimes and a "coach of coaches" in his later years. "His influence will live forever." Walker said Lydiard, who wasn't his coach, was a vibrant personality and his methods were indispensable to athletes worldwide. Walker said Lydiard died doing what he loved best, "preaching the gospel of Lydiard."

His influence spread beyond athletics, with coaches in sports ranging from rugby to rowing, canoeing and swimming adopting many of his training methods.

Arthur was a coach, mentor and friend to countless amounts of people worldwide. He will be sorely missed but his training principles will live on for generations.

In the words of Bob Costas talking about the late Mickey Mantle: "I just hope God has a place for him where he can run again."

ARTHUR LYDIARD - 1917-2004 Distinguished career Born: Auckland, July 6, 1917 National titles: New Zealand Marathon 1953,1955 Games representation: Empire Games 1950 Best marathon time: 2h 39m 05s Coached: Peter Snell, Sir Murray Halberg, John Davies and Dick Tayler to their greatest victories.

*New Zealand Olympic Coach 1964, a Commonwealth Games coach in 1974.
*Made an OBE in 1962.
*Awarded NZ's highest royal honour, membership of the Order of New Zealand, 1990.
*Inducted into New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame, 1990.
*Made life member of Athletics NZ, 2003
*Awarded Finland's premier honor, the White Star.

For a photo album of Arthur Lydiard, click here.


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