Athletes pay tribute to master coach Lydiard
MONDAY , 13 DECEMBER 2004
Some of New Zealand’s greatest middle distance athletes last night paid tribute to master coach Arthur Lydiard, who died yesterday afternoon (NZT) in Texas.
Dick Quax, a silver medallist in the 5000m at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, said Lydiard was a great New Zealander and made major contributions to world sport.
“He was without doubt the greatest coach that this country has ever produced,” he said.
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, which was based on long, steady running rather than the interval training favoured by European and American coaches at the time.
“Within a fairly short time of introducing runners to the system, he was developing New Zealand champions and then Olympic champions and world champions and world record holders.”
Lydiard’s methods revolutionised training not just for distance runners but for other endurance sports, Quax said.
“He was a man many, many years ahead of his time.”
Quax was coached by John Davies, who was coached by Lydiard.
“That’s the legacy of Arthur being carried on through succeeding generations,” he said.
“His legacy will live forever because he basically started the running movement and his methods of distance training many years ago will not disappear overnight just because Arthur’s passed away,” running great John Walker said.
“I think his methods will become even stronger.”
Walker, who won the 1500m gold medal at the 1976 Montreal Games, said generations of coaches have adopted Lydiard’s methods including international coaches who all acknowledged the master coaches tenets.
“He will be missed. He was very assertive and authoritative because he motivated people through his voice. He was very strong, very dominant and also positive and he’s basically died what he loved doing best which is preaching the gospel of Arthur Lydiard to the masses.”
Walker, who broke the four-minute mile barrier 129 times in his stellar career, recalled that one his greatest moments as a young runner was finally meeting Lydiard.
“Reading his books as a young kid and then meeting the man. Peter Snell was my childhood hero and Snell was a protege of Lydiard so when I read the story of Lydiard and finally met him as a young child growing up was all the inspiration I needed.”
“It’s ironic that once somebody had passed on they become more recognised, more famous and more accepted and I’m sure Arthur will be the same. His legacy will live forever.
“He’s been a tremendous influence around the world. He’s probably been more appreciated outside of New Zealand and sometimes we take for granted that we have these famous people here who are pioneers and we just sort of tend to ignore them.
“For example Arthur was only made an honorary life member of Athletics New Zealand last year when he should have been made many moons ago.
“He was more respected in Finland, America and around the world then he was in his own country.
“He’s died doing what did best and he had already had one lecture where he spoke to 400 people. He felt a bit tired, lay down and had a rest and didn’t wake up.
“If we could all pass on like that after fulfilling our lives it would be quite good.”
Without him, running as we know it wouldnt exist.