Tag Archives: myles edwards facebook

“Some things never change……some things.”

By Myles Edwards

 
 
Cast your mind back to 1967.  Labour were in power in the United Kingdom.  War in the Middle East was causing conflict in the western world.  Casino Royale was a box office hit.  Mini skirts were the craze.  Ken Barlow was strutting his stuff in one of the nation’s favourite soap operas.  Some things never change……some things.

Mel Edwards is a former British marathon international runner with a personal best time of 2hours 18minutes 24seconds (set in 1967), and is widely regarded as one of the most inspiring, modest and popular coaches in the running fraternity.

Born in December 1942, he graduated in Civil Engineering from Cambridge University in 1966 and has since enjoyed a great deal of success in the world of distance running.  In a career which has spanned over 40 years, Mel has endured a roller coaster of ‘injuries’ and success at every level from club competitions to international level.  Detailed and accurate training diaries have been kept, which show he has racked up a total of over 100,000 miles of running!

Mel Edwards at Font Romeu, high altitude training camp 2008

Following receiving his second Cambridge ‘blue’ for his exploits on the track he went on to bigger and better things in 1967.  It was quite literally a record breaking year for Mel.  He impressively broke the Scottish 6 mile record – whilst finishing 2nd to Lachie Stewart, but went one step higher on the podium in the English universities 3 mile race by cracking the previous record.  1967 saw him really flourish as an athlete, most notably in the marathon distance of 26.2 miles.  In his first attempt at the event, Mel ran away from his rivals early on to win the Harlow marathon and climb to 4th in the British rankings.  To cap it all off, he narrowly missed out on the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, by 2 places.

What contributed to this large amount of success in a sport, which, at the time was highly competitive in the UK?  In an answer that was oozing with Mel’s typical, determined attitude, he said:

“It was down to single minded focus on getting the best out of myself, by doing the work and when injured leaving no stone unturned to find the solution.”

Renowned for his training regimes of around 100miles per week, what makes Mel stand out is his positive attitude and dogged determination to get the best possible outcome from everything he does.

In November 2006, aged almost 64, Mel underwent a MRI scan for lower back pain.  45 minutes later he was diagnosed with Myeloma, an incurable but very treatable form of bone marrow cancer.  After numerous treatments and minor disruptions to work, 8 months later he was back to full-time work as a chartered road safety engineer and running over 20 miles per week.  His reaction following the diagnosis typified his personality traits.

“Those are malignancies, cancer”, said Dr. Frank Smith.  Much to the doctor’s amazement, Mel’s immediate reaction was not to be shocked but “I’ve got a big cross country race coming up soon.”

When asked if he felt his attitude and fitness achieved from competitive sport had helped him face cancer head on, Mel’s response was definitive:

“There is no question these elements made fighting myeloma much easier. I would hate to have had to deal with it if I had never had to show determination in my life due to things coming too easily. Certainly fitness means that you have a built-in reserve which can be used to deal with additional stresses.”

It is this attitude which has served Mel so well throughout his life and during the treatment.  An inspiration to many, but what makes this inspirational character tick?

“I am inspired by the opportunities available to do constructive things, such as helping people with their athletics aims and trying to make roads safer in my working capacity. These aims, when carried through, give people a feel-good factor.”

British marathon running was booming in the late 1960s and continued to do so for the best part of the following two decades.  In 1968 there were only 2 countries to have more than 3 runners faster than Mel – Japan and UK, which, looking at today’s standards makes him look rather unlucky at missing out on competing at an Olympic Games.  But it is evident that excuses, simply, aren’t in his nature.

In 1968, 46 UK men broke the 2hours 30 minutes barrier.  In 2007, only 31 men managed to achieve this feat.  With all the advances in footwear, nutrition and training tools, as well as even faster role models, albeit almost all from other countries – why is there such a decline in British marathon running standards?

Mel’s opinion on the decline is, again, filled with absolute clarity:

“It is down to distance runners not putting in the work they did 40 years ago.  You have to be totally dedicated to getting the mileage in and choosing the right races.  Between 1966 and 1984, in Aberdeen alone, there were ten guys faster than 2 hours 20 minutes for the marathon.”

For many people, it is intriguing to find out what gets an athlete through long runs without boredom setting in.  For Mel, it is simple:

“I really enjoy the challenge of distance and time.  The fact that others with an aim to be in the top echelons of marathon or cross country running in the UK, were doing similar training also gave me a desire to be the best.”

A common site in elite marathons. (World record holder Haile Gebrselassie 3rd from right)

The lack of top marathon runners in the UK today is in stark contrast to the likes of Kenya, Ethiopia and America.  For Mel, in the late 60s and 70s you only had to turn up for a local race to compete with or witness elite athletes in action.  Therefore can the lack of male distance running role models in the UK be a factor in the decline of standards?  Perhaps so, but with Mel’s philosophy, it is very likely that all smaller factors would subsequently fall into place.

“More role models would emerge as a result of increased hard work from individual athletes.  To be the best, you must learn from, and work harder than those faster than you.”

His fair, no nonsense attitude spans far wider than himself or anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting him.  For those who are not familiar with the name, Oscar Pistorious, he is a South African Paralympic runner, known as the “Blade Runner”.  He is the double amputee world record holder in the 100, 200 and 400 metres and runs with the aid of carbon-fibre limbs, attached from the knee down.  In 2007 Pistorious took part in his first international able-bodied competitions.  However, the International Association of Athletics Federations (with their typical Rubix Cube-like mindset) ruled that his lower leg, artificial limbs gave him an unfair advantage over able-bodied athletes and subsequently banned him from competing under their rules.  Thankfully this decision has since been reversed and he is eligible to compete in able-bodied Olympic competition.

Mel’s opinion on Oscar Pistorious’ situation not only demonstrates his love of a challenge but also seems to apply common sense to some harsh obstacles which had previously been placed in the path of the young South African’s destiny.

“I believe he should be allowed to compete at the highest level possible.  He is not far off the top able bodied 400m runners and relishes the challenge of competing against them. Why deny him the chance?  He deserves the opportunity to enjoy himself as he wishes and I see this taking precedence over views of others on his actions.”

The British male marathon running scene offers little sign of competing at the front of world class racing.  At 67, Mel Edwards shows less chance of slowing down than Formula 1 cars and even less likelihood of quitting than Ken Barlow:  “I have no reason to stop.  I feel good and it is exciting.”

Some things never change.

Advertisements

8 Comments

Filed under Life and Society, Sport

Sports journalism pulling off the saves

 
 

Sports journalism - the saviour?

By Myles Edwards and Suhayl Afzal

Newspapers are relying heavily on sports journalism to survive, according to leading journalists and academics.

The latest circulation figures from ABC (an independent auditor on media performance) show that sales of each quality daily and Sunday newspaper have fallen again in the year leading up to October.

Newspapers such as the The Guardian and The Observer have already ceased distribution of bulks (copies that readers can pick up free of charge from hotels and airlines), with the Times and the Sunday Times set to follow suit in January 2010.

The Sunday Times recorded a relatively low fall in circulation compared to that of other national newspapers, with a 3.37 percent drop in the past 12 months. This is partly down to the popularity of its comprehensive sports section.

Jonathan Northcroft, Football Correspondent with the Sunday Times, believes that sport is integral to the future of newspapers.

He said: “There has never been a greater interest in top end sport than there is right now. The Premier League is the most popular in the world, Test Cricket grosses more money than ever before and it’s the same for all the blue riband events such as the Olympics and Wimbledon.”

Barclays Premier League - global audience

Mr Northcroft emphasised the importance of newspapers maintaining their high quality so that readership does not drop any further.

He added: ”Sports journalism is delivering in a sector where people really want to consume content and will pay for exclusive news or to read a brilliantly written opinion piece.”

It could be argued that newspapers should not be overly dependant on sport in this difficult time for the media due to advertising downturns. The high profile demise of Setanta in the UK is evidence of this view.

However, Mark Ogden, Northern Football Correspondent with the Telegraph said: “Newspapers still have the greatest impact and set the agenda.

“If you watch Sky Sports News or listen to Five Live in the morning, their sports bulletins are often led by the big stories in that day’s newspapers.”

Academics also recognise the importance of the sport to the success of print media.

Michael Oriard, Professor of Literature and Culture at Oregon State University said sport both benefits from and contributes to success of newspapers.

He added: “Sport coverage attracts the reader, who in turn looks to daily newspapers to satisfy their growing desire for more and more sport.”

1 Comment

Filed under Media, Sport

TV sports report sparks backlash

 

55452277

The summer Olympics are one of a number of events which are on the proposed free-to-air events list

 

By Suhayl Afzal and Myles Edwards

Proposed changes to the list of free-to-air sporting events have triggered widespread criticism.

Sporting associations, journalists and the public have reacted angrily to the recommendations put to the department of culture, media and sport by an independent panel.

The report suggests that all of the home nations’ football qualifiers be made available on free-to-air TV, along with England’s home Ashes Tests making a return to the list. 

The Open golf championship and Wimbledon tennis championship will also be retained. 

Rugby league’s Challenge Cup final and horseracing’s Epson Derby will be removed from the so-called ‘crown-jewels list’, if the recommendations are adopted by culture secretary Ben Bradshaw.

The controversial recommendations have led to Scottish FA chief executive Gordon Smith voicing his concerns over their potential damaging consequences on the game.

He said: “It seems like a great idea to say your games should be free-to-air.  It sounds like you’re really considering the public, but it would have serious financial repercussions in terms of income that we bring in to the SFA.

“We would have no problem at all provided the free-to-air broadcaster paid the same money as a satellite broadcaster.”

He added: “Maybe the government would make up the shortfall in terms of the deal that we get, in order that we can continue to offer the services we offer to football at grassroots, youth and a professional level.”

England Cricket Board chief Giles Clarke also warned that it could lead to “a decade of decay” for his sport and that the report would have “a disastrous effect on grassroots funding”.

The Independent Advisory Panel was composed of several well known names from the worlds of sports and media, including Colin Jackson, Angus Fraser, Dougie Donnelly and Eamonn Holmes.

The report made no mention of the possibility of terrestrial TV stations bidding the same price as the likes of Sky have done in the past. 

Smith and Clarke are not the only ones who are concerned that this could drastically reduce the funding towards grassroots levels of sport.

Andrew Moir, who has worked as a journalist for Sky and ESPN, said that the recommendations could have both positive and negative consequences.

He said: “It is good from a consumer point of you that all these events will potentially be aired free of charge.  They will be on offer to a far wider audience.

“However, if terrestrial TV stations are able to bid for the events at a smaller price than Sky would have had to, then it could be very damaging to the future of sports. I see no reason why the likes of BBC or ITV couldn’t bid a high amount for the events.”

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has 12 weeks to consider the panel’s findings.

 

FULL LIST OF PROPOSED FREE-TO-AIR EVENTS

Summer Olympic Games
Cricket’s home Ashes Test matches
Wimbledon Championship
Open golf championship
Football: FIFA World Cup finals, UEFA European Championship finals, FA Cup final (England, Wales and Northern Ireland only), Scottish FA Cup (Scotland), home and away football qualifiers for World Cup and European Championship for their specific UK nations
Rugby Union: Rugby World Cup (full tournament), Wales matches in Six Nations (in Wales only)
The Grand National 

Leave a comment

Filed under Government, Sport

Edinburgh football bosses disagree over Old Firm move

John Hughes

By Myles Edwards

Hearts and Hibs bosses have clashed over Walter Smith’s claim that Scottish football is dying a slow death.

The Rangers manager said on Friday that it would harm Scottish football if the Old Firm were to remain in the Scottish Premier League.

He said: “I think if we don’t leave the SPL, Scottish football is in danger of dying.  We are already seeing a downturn financially, with our top players moving out of the SPL.”

Csaba Laszlo, the Hearts manager feels that Rangers and Celtic are looking to ‘run away’ from the problems of Scottish football. 

Laszlo is adamant that he would like the Old Firm to stay in the SPL and help make the league ‘more attractive for sponsors and supporters.’ 

He said: “We must not have problems, but solutions. We must search deeper.  I think at the moment we must make the league bigger, not smaller and weaker.

Laszlo

The Jam Tarts boss went on to say how he feels all 12 SPL clubs must pull together to improve Scottish football and look at it in a positive light:

“The problem in Scottish football is deeper.  I know we can come out, but to run away from the problems is maybe not the best solution.

“We must make Scottish football more attractive for sponsors, supporters and for the National team to play more successful football in the big competitions like Poland/Ukraine (2012) and also to bring more big name players back to the Scottish league.”

Whereas Hibernian manager, Hughes appears more understanding of the Old Firm’s wishes to move south of the border, stating that he ‘understands why they (Rangers and Celtic) would want to go to pastures new.’

He said today: “Football is becoming global.  The revenue that they can make elsewhere would be tenfold to what it is in Scotland.

“Does Scottish football need the Old Firm? Yes – I think we do.  I think they are our showcase two teams; they carry the banner for Scottish football.

“If they did move, I think everybody else in Scotland would say, ‘We fancy our chances to win this league’.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Sport

City boss ready to make last four bid

Leave a comment

Filed under Sport

Peterhead must find form soon, says Sharp

Leave a comment

Filed under Sport

Cup success in Norway for Lewis United Under 15s

Leave a comment

Filed under Sport