Best Books of all time

Lance Armstrong,

It’s Not About the Bike

ISBN; 0425179613

Probably the most well written sports book ever, I think.

Have you had a chance to read it yet? What do you think? The stuff about his experience in the Olympic “call room” in Tokyo was interesting to me, a real competitor’s inside glance at the thought processes of a champion.

An autobiography by General Chuck Yeager and Leo Janos

ISBN O-553-25674-2

Dogfights over Nazi-occupied Europe, shot down a Messerschmitt jet flying a prop-driven P-51 Mustang. Hero of all the hotshot fly-boys; a post-War military Test pilot who lived by his wits because he knew how every component in his plane (engine and all) worked - the guy who stretched his life to the “edge of the envelope”; First man to break the sound barrier (and the fear and paranoia barriers of the day); a cat who used up 8 of his 9 lives; the guy they wrote The Right Stuff all about. What a ride. Great read, you cannot believe one guy squeezed so much into a life and I think he may be still going. Get this hardcover if you can. I’ve only got it (new) softcover at present.

taking it away to read on my next flight in 10 days i have had a quick read through some areas of the book but i know if i start wont put it down.

Why DIE?

The extraordinary PERCY CERUTTY
‘Maker of Champions’

by Graem Sims

Lothian Books
first published 2003

ISBN 0 7344 0540 5

337 pages inclusive of index.

Fascinating and eccentric man and athletics coach, best known for mentoring and cajoling a string of champions including mile world recordbreakers John Landy and Herb Elliott. At the age of 44, given two years to live, he changed his lifestyle and applied his obsessive nature to transforming himself into an ultr-marathon recordbreaker and developed his own philosophy of living “Stotan(ism)” (from the mix of Spartan and Stoic), he also developed what was then an entirely original theory of human movement. He was pretty crazy and often over the top. He was, according to some of the men who he coached, a pain in the arse. But he was a magnificent maniac whose legacy, oddly enough, inspired the likes of Aziz Daouda, who set up the Moroccan Institute of Athletics with Said Aouita which went on to produce maybe history’s greatest middle distance runner in Hicham El Guerrouj. I went to Rabat in 1999 to spend a week with El G, Daouda and Kada (El G’s personal coach) and heard all about Cerutty’s influence there. Anyway, this is a deeply researched biography on Cerutty with lots of previously unpublished letters, diaries and essays by Cerutty as well as anecdotes and reminiscences of key figures of the days when he was the king of coaches on the Olympic scene around the time of Rome 1960, but a few years either side as well.

The 100m Olympic Champions

by Neil Duncanson

ISBN 0-00-218313-7

This was the basis for a Thames film documentary, but the book is excellent. It’s 192 pages inclusive of acknowledgements, about A4 size format, concisely laid out as a series of biographies of each and every men’s Olympic 100m champion from 1896 (Tom Burke) to Carl Lewis (1984) . The last chapter, on Lewis, contains a lot of information about Ben Johnson’s rise in anticipation of a showdown at Seoul in 1988, the year this book was first published.

Some stats, on page 187 of the softcover edition I bought, contains some interesting stuff on BJ happily not typical of the sort of fluff too often included to pad out sports bios.

"A scientific study conducted by the University of Ottawa suggests that his speed is unique among sprinters.

". . . They found a number of stunning facts: first, that Ben uses 3000 watts of energy in one stride, which is more than enough to light up an average mansion; and, second, that he brakes more efficiently than a car.

"Ben also intrigued scientists by running in what they described as a completely different style to that of other sprinters. Leading the inquiry was Professor Gord Robertson, who explained: 'We have always felt that sprinters landed high on their toes and the heel would barely touch the ground.

'But this is not what happened in Ottawa (where BJ ran a world record for 50m of 5.55 at the 1987 Winternational Games).

‘Everybody was landing on their heels, but Ben wasn’t.’

"The professor explained that Ben ran high on his toes with the ankle fully extended upwards, just like an animal.

‘Dogs run like that,’ says Robertson. ‘They run on their fingers with their heels inches off the ground.’

“The scientists concluded that this strange style was responsible for Ben’s incredible spring.”

Would be interesting to hear Charlie’s thoughts on the above quotes ascribed to the good professor.

Apart from that, this book contains loads of excellent historic photographs of every competitor, some very rare, most in colour. For instance, I had not previously (or anywhere else since) seen the b+w picture of Harold Abrahams chatting poolside with Jesse Owens in Kingston, during the 1966 Commonwealth Games.

The guy who wrote this book is evidently a huge fan of the men’s 100m but he’s also been quite a collector of information.

This is a “must have” book for sprint fans because all the heroes up to 1988 are given comprehensive coverage and brought to life with a lot of quotes both from the principles as well as some of the top competitors of their respective eras.

does the Cerrutty book cover much about his training philosophy and methods?

My impression of the analysis of Ben? He was leaning forward on the several strides examined, leaning into the tape, making the foot contacts look different. That’s the difference between “scientific analysis” and just plain looking (which showed that he ran just like everyone else).

Stand back! Educated idiots at work…

gambetcha must’ve been furious he didn’t get to knock off that theory and publish under his own name.

Relax and Win by Bud Winter

Paperback: 273 pages
Publisher: Oak Tree Pubns
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0498025411
ISBN-13: 978-0498025419

Bud describes in detail the relaxation techniques he used with Navy pilots during WWII and later applied to his sprinters at San Jose State. Unfortunately, it’s out of print and very hard to find and usually expensive when you do. But if you can find a copy through the library I highly recommend it. Just don’t read it in bed, you’ll fall asleep just reading the relaxation exercises.