Page 31 - Summer2014Gazette
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Feature                            29

1969. He turned to coaching       competition. But despite this     His gravestone in Wareham,
after effectively hanging         the article cited other positive  Dorset is typically modest,
up his spikes after the 1949      factors which included prolific   making no mention of his
National where he finished        performances on the big stage,    MBE or his prowess and
45th, 4 places behind 1948        his ability to achieve fast       status as one of the greatest
Olympian and clubmate Jack        times and set world records       athletes of all time. But his
Braughton. His 80th birthday      at various distances, his         wife and family never knew
was celebrated in great style at  well honed technique which        him as the superstar athlete
the Blackheath clubhouse.         could give him the required       and a wonderful poem written
                                  speed, access to effective and    for his funeral spoke of the
Sydney’s legacy is well           advanced coaching, and the        person in the photo on the
preserved and every year very     good fortune to reach his peak    wall that nobody really knew.
close to the anniversary of the   at a time when one generation     He will always be that ‘real
800m World record an 800m         of middle distance runners        human being’ as described
race is held as part of the       were declining and another        by Past President Tony
BMC meeting at Cambridge          generation (notably the Swedes    Weeks-Pearson, and will
Harriers’ HQ. It is a high        Haag and Andersson) were          be remembered as a loyal
quality affair with a decent      only just beginning to emerge     supporter of the club at grass
cash prize for the winner and     as creditable opposition.         roots, an example of how to
a bonus should the winner         These factors were I believe of   be truly human, and a person
better Sydney’s World record      sufficient substance to outweigh  whose richness of personality
time. A few years ago the         those against him which were      in turn enriched the lives of
winner missed Sydney’s mark       mere conjucture, and as factors   others. He was not just a great
by just .3 of a second, probably  were ‘patently compelling and     athlete but arguably the greatest
the most expensive .3 that        authentic grounds for rating      ever ‘Heathern’ whose soul and
athlete will ever have!           Wooderson as an athlete           memory lives on in the hearts
                                  of world class’ who would         of all who love our great club.
In an article from the            ‘have emerged as an Olympic
Winter 2011/2012 Gazette          champion of distinction’. The                        Hugh Stanbury
the question was raised as        article of course proposed
to whether he would have          scenarios which should best
been Olympic champion at          be described as alternative
1500m. Much evidence in           history, and concluded that if
favor of the prospect of this     the reality was disappointing
occurring was put forward         in its denied achievement then
even though there were            the consolation for him and all
arguments against this too,       those who knew and admired
These centered around such        him was that he ‘remained
factors as persistent injuries,   a modest man with a well
the relative lack of training he  balanced personality’ who
conducted as well as lengthy      avoided the ruthlessness of the
rest periods throughout the       modern professional athlete
year, his outside interests and   which ‘might have made him a
his limitations against truly     less attractive person’.
world class international
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