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Over the weekend of January 17/18th local athletes were fortunate enough to benefit from having Martin Rush, National Performance Co-ordinator (South West) and Peter Marlow (IAAF race walking judge here on the Island offering advice and opinions on aspects of race walking including coaching, judging, training, conditioning, development and racing tactics.

It is always been a pleasure to make the acquaintance of Martin Rush who belies his 39 years, still looking like the 18 year old schoolboy who won the English Schools title here on the Isle of Man. Martin competed in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona having achieved the qualifying standard at the Bowl in a classic encounter which was probably the last great race between all of Britain’s finest as they all chased the Olympic qualifying standard (5th place was 1.25.32!!!) Martin’s time that day of 83.24 for 20km still stands as his personal best. It also places him joint fourth on Britain’s all time list with Andy Penn and behind one time regular visitors to the Isle of Man Ian McCombie, Chris Maddocks and Steve Barry.

Martin is also a very accomplished runner having run sub 50 minutes for 10 miles and 2.34 for the marathon, a time that incidentally he says that he was very disappointed with. He suffered during the second half of the race and as many of our locals may have experienced pace judgement early on in the marathon is vitally important.

Having made the efforts to get Peter Marlow to visit the Island to conduct a race walking judging seminar and I can say that after the event that it has been a privileged to have spent the weekend in his company. Peter is an International race walking judge and was elected chief judge for the recent World Athletic Championships in Paris and will again be chief judge for this years Olympics in Athens.

Peter was one of the main organisers of the Lugano Cup and Eschborn Trophy races when held on the Isle of Man back in 1985. He was also the team manager when I first represented Great Britain back in 1986.

Peter has been a member of the IAAF walking committee for over 27 years and is the longest serving member on the IAF council. He is also chairman of the European Athletic Association race walking commission.

A few local race walkers spent a most enjoyable evening with both Peter and Martin on Saturday where we were entertained with stories some serious some interesting but mostly hilarious from both, relating to their experiences both home and abroad in racing, training and officiating. If you get the chance ask Steve Partington about his trip to Moscow with Peter Marlow and John Cocker.

I took time out to ask Peter some specific questions and here they are.

How did you first get involved with athletics?

At school in London through the race walking events that they organised.

Did you do any other athletic disciplines?

No it was only ever race walking.

What do you consider to be you finest achievements when you were competing?

Without a doubt it has to be competing in the 1972 Munich Olympics where I finished 17th.

So when did you retire from competition?

I retired from international competition in 1976 but only stopped competing two years ago when I was diagnosed with ME.

How and when did you move into judging?

I moved into judging in 1980 but I had already been elected to the IAAF walking committee back in 1976.

How long did it take you to reach grade 1?

I made grade 1 in 1984 which was the same year I was elected on to the IAAF panel of judges. Although by virtue of my membership of the IAAF walking committee I was already considered to be an international judge.

You have been on the panel for over 27 years now, what are your personal achievements in that time?

Being chief judge at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and instigating the IAAF race walking judging examination.

And the achievements of your committee?

The Grand Prix of race walking, which started in 2003. (Gillian O’Sullivan won the women’s event)

There has been a lot of media coverage over the years of powers struggles within the IAAF, do you believe that despite this athletics has always been at the forefront of their attentions and therefore has never suffered because of it?

We know from experience that sport is heavily influenced by politics and the sport itself is political, particularly at the higher levels. Between 1993 and 1999 I didn’t receive a single appointment to officiate by the IAAF for what I believe were political reasons but at the same time I received great support form the EAA who elected me chairman of their race walking commission. 

Have you experienced any power struggles for any position that you hold?

I wish there was but sadly like the number of competitors the number of officials has declined over the years. My positions with the IAAF and EAA whilst appearing glamorous are very time consuming and incur a lot of personal expense.

Who did you look up to when you started out in race walking?

Stan Vickers. (European 20km gold 1958 and Olympic 20km bronze 1960) See also

Who sticks out in your mind as being the finest race walker in your era, British and world?

Paul Nihill without any shadow of a doubt. (World record holder for 20km set at the Bowl in Douglas 1972, Olympic 50km silver 1964, European 20km gold 1969 and European 20km bronze 1971)

I am sure that he is featured in the following link but it is under going maintenance at the moment.

And in today’s arena?

Robert Korzeniowski

How important do you see the Manx Harriers invitation meetings in the British calendar, and what message would you send out to British walkers who aspire to compete in international competitions about the Manx Harriers event?

The message is simple, do this race! This event is so important to us in Britain and I lambasted the National Coach last year because not one of the GB squad competed here. All the majors are becoming earlier in the year so an early season time is of paramount importance to the athlete. The invitation event has a great history of fast times and British athletes need to make the most of these opportunities on home soil (since 1983 every 20km race (19 of them) has been won in a time of sub 90 minutes, in 2003 only one GB man managed to break through this barrier)

What do you see as the problem with 50km walking in this country at the moment?

I think that similar to marathon running no is prepared to do the work required in order to achieve success at the distance.

Have you ever put a card in for, or as chief had to disqualify a British competitor from a major championship?

Yes and I have no problems with it, as a judge you have to be impartial. I recall being invited to judge at an international meeting and I sent a DQ card for a British competitor. The chief judge, who was of the host country, sent it back to me believing that I had made a mistake. I told him that the card was correct and he was genuinely shocked that I had put a card in for someone from my own country.

Do you see British walking ever being able to compete on the world stage at any distance?

Not in the next ten years.

If so what is it going to take and do any of our current youngsters stand out as having extreme potential?

I am not sure what exactly it is going to take but Nick Ball stands out head and shoulders above the rest, he is an athlete with huge potential.

You were chief judge at the recent world championships and will be chief again for the Olympics in 2004. Would this be a suitable time for you to retire?

Probably, I was elected to the IAAF panel for a four-year term this time round and when that finishes I will be 66 and I think that I will have done all I can by then.

So what is next for you?

I would like to think that I would lecture full time on race walking hopefully working for the IAAF and EAA.

Peter on behalf of all in Manx athletics I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and for being so honest with your replies. Now I do think that it’s your round so get the beers in.



Peter Marlow, has been on the Island to give a presentation to local walking judges. The 1972 Olympian, IAAF racewalking judge and Chairman of the European Racewalking Commission was present at the Bank of Scotland Walking League event in Andreas on Sunday morning.

Peter was impressed by what he saw,

"This type of community-based competition is the way of the future. Events like this, where the competition is combined with a social element, are now very rare in the U.K. It is a real bonus to see the range of ages competing."

Wearing his judge’s hat, he was equally enthusiastic,

"There was some genuine talent on show this morning – especially in the juniors. The excellent techniques on show emphasise the strength of coaching the Island has."

Martin Rush had put many of the walkers through their paces at a series of coaching sessions at the NSC on Saturday. Martin, who walked in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, now works for UK Athletics as Performance Manager for the South West of England. He too was upbeat about his visit,

"It is a real pleasure to be invited over to the Island to work with Allan (Callow) and Liz Corran. It was great to work with such an enthusiastic and receptive group of walkers, and from what I have seen over the weekend, it is obvious that there is some very good coaching already going on.

Compiled by Steve Partington

copyright (c) 2004 Murray Lambden. All rights reserved.
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