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  • Did Bannister ruin athletics?

    "Bannister's four-minute mile, whose 50th anniversary is being hailed this week, actually ruined world athletics."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story ... 38,00.html

  • #2
    Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

    If he said "pacing is unsportsmanlike", he would at least have an argument. Sweeping generalizations (and accusations) of this sort are laughable. IMHO, that is :-).
    "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
    by Thomas Henry Huxley

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    • #3
      Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

      This article is so contradictory that it is nearly incomprehensible. The author congratulates Bayi for being a front runner and winning. But if Walker had won that race coming from behind, would he have considered Bayi a rabbit and criticized Walker? On the other hand when El G. lost to Ngeny while using a rabbit, the author is still critical of El G. and implicitly lauds Ngeny even though the Kenyan had the same advantage pacing off the rabbit that El G. enjoyed. This is all remindful of the long thread here about the marathon rabbit who didn't wait for his employers and won the race instead. Some thought that winning that way was immoral. Here, for no logical reason, the author villainizes Bannister (by any common-sense measure one of the most admirable men in the history of athletics). Nonsense!

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      • #4
        Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

        It's all a bit overstated but that is standard journalistic liscense when trying to make a point... and his point is entirely valid, to a point. ( lot of points here...)

        The laughable part of it is, if a remember correctly, when countryman Derek Ibbotson ran his WR 3:57.2 just 3 years later, its approval was delayed for a bit as there were allegations of "illegal pacing." Do not remember the details ( Mike Blagrove set a hot pace, do not remember the rest ) but surely it could not have been a whole lot worse than Bannister's race.

        If anyone had had the courage to seriously question the validity of Bannister's race, after all the world-wide ballyhoo, ithere would have been hell to pay for them. And on the surface and going a bit deeper, Bannister's pacing had an aura of more legitimacy as both Chataway and Brasher were superstars in their own rights, they both finished the race, and were teammates as opposed to nameless hired rabbits.

        So I have to agree with the author's contention to a great extent. Once Bannister's WR was approved, the had also given tacit acceptance to pacing.

        Always hard to turn off the faucet once the water's flowing.

        As an example... in the Pole Vault, if fiberglass poles back n the mid 50's had been IMMEDIATELY BANNED, with it proclaimed that poles had to be metal or a certain % of it, with flex limits of such and such, the event would be better than it is today. No knock on the PV'ers of today, they are fabulous athletes, but if they were jumping on metal, probably with a WR of no more than 17 feet ( 5.18 m ) it would be a better event than it is with the slingshot fiberglass poles.

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        • #5
          Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

          ..

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          • #6
            Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

            I agree Pego. How about his closing sentence about three white-vested establishment figures?
            That's The Guardian for you.

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            • #7
              Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

              Pat is an extremely experienced and knowledgable track and field journalist, he used to write for The Times. When I saw the topic, where it was published and before I saw Pat's name, I anticipated a left wing hatchet job on Brit toffs. However, despite using the word "establishment" in the last paragraph, which could indicate my first instinct had some merit, I happen to agree with him. I lost interest years ago in these bogus rabbited races...oh, whoops...I didn't mean races I meant contrived time-trials. Pacing Olympic Finals is an absolute disgrace. How can anyone prefer a WR in a set-up trial than fantastic races al la Bayi and Viren, in non-WR times?

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              • #8
                Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

                ..

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                • #9
                  Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

                  where do we draw the line ? How about pacer lights like the ITA had ? Or mechanical rabbits like the dogs chase ?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

                    mark speaks of Viren and Bayi winning fabulous races in "non WR tmes." Well, a few times, there WERE with WR's, making it all the better. Namely Bayi's already-cited Commonwealth 1500, plus I recall Viren's OG 10 in '72... and he fell down in the race to boot !

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                    • #11
                      Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

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                      • #12
                        Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

                        The ongoing chase for WR's has screwed up middle distance in my opinion. Obviously more often than not the attempt fails. So what has the paying public seen? A parade around for multiple laps with the field strung out behind an athlete that everyone knows is going to step aside. Then El G or whoever kicking on his own for the last lap; everyones looking at the clock and the announcers are yelling their usual hyperbole. Then, the clock goes past the WR as the athlete is still meters from the finish and the crowd all sigh with disappointment. What the hell is exciting about that? A legit race where even the outstanding athletes could get beaten is far more exciting. It's a sport, a competition, a race...T&F is about beating your competitors and if you have to run a WR in the process all the better. If El G's best chance to win is to break the back of his opposition by going out at WR pace and destroying them the he should do that, just not by following a pacemaker. Only 1 or 2 of his competitors have the ability to hang anywhere near him anyway. And, the absolute worse thing about pace makers is that athletes who finsh 2-10th, anywhere up to 150m behind (hardly competitive, eh?) get great times and move up the lists in a totally artificial manner. Who was that young guy you guys keep talking about in the mile?

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                        • #13
                          Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

                          ..

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                          • #14
                            Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

                            Yes, this article is hilariously wrong-headed, even though it is written by someone with some real knowledge of athletics. I've made the point recently that Bannister's record was little short of a "public time trial," but so what? This remains THE most famous performance in track history, so it's clear that pacing in and of itself just isn't that big a deal. Breaking the 4-minute barrier was the big deal. There are plenty of examples of non-paced races (both record races and championship events) since Bannister--Halberg, Clarke, Ryun, etc., etc. The regular use of pacers is a result of the Grand Prix circuit--where it is simply a "given" that leads to fast overall times. As stated before, paced races tend to be "honest" in the sense that athletes are tested over 100% of the distance, and not simply some small fraction of it at the end.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Did Bannister ruin athletics?

                              perhaps i don't understand:

                              1) whats wrong with faster times and WR results or attempts?

                              2) what keeps someone from ignoring the rabbits totally?

                              3) what in the world is wrong with the 2-10 runners moving their times up 'artificially'?! (that's an insane comment to me)

                              4) what's more exciting than watching people kick their way around the last lap, people falling ahead and behind trying to pass with their last bit of strength?

                              5) it's on a track, the times are much more the goal than in a road race or XC course with more varied and 'unfamiliar' terrain. i fail to see what the 'better' alternative to the current middle distance style is. this thread is ludicrous!

                              Bring on the WRs!

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