Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Lynn Davies (Looking back in November 2011)

Lynn Davies interviews (1964-68-70) and Ralph Boston talking in 1964

On the front cover of 'Athletics Arena' in the Pre Olympic edition of the 'Old magazine' in 1964 Charles Elliott, the Editor of the magazine (which ceased publication in the middle 1970's) put on the cover the famous photographer Mark Shearman's picture of Lynn Davies in colour, some foresight once again by coach/statistician and Editor Charlie Elliott as, Lynn Davies,  won the gold medal and yet, in feet and inches, these were the order of the first six ranked before the Games in Tokyo. 1 Ralph Boston (USA) 27'4¼; (Olympic Champion in Rome in 1960); 2 Igor Ter-Ovanesyan (Soviet Union) 26'10 ,(European Champion in 1958, 62 & 69) 3 Gayle Hopkins (USA) 26' 9¼;  4 Godfrey Moore (USA) 26' 6½ =5 Leonid Barkovsky (Soviet Union) 26'4 & Lynn Davies (GB) the same distance as Barkovsky!
   By the time 1970 came in and Lynn, was to go on and win one more major title in the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, he had been consecutively Olympic, Commonwealth and European Champion (Plus 1967 European Champion indoors) and won seven AAA's  titles and even won two over the 100m. He actually ran 10.4 for 100m and 9.5 for 100 yards. What was even more outstanding was the fact it took THIRTY FOUR YEARS for his British long jump record of 8.18/26'10 (On May 28 at the Inter-Counties of 1966) to be wiped off the books by Chris Tomlinson with  8.27 in 2002.I know how that remarkable span of time would be appreciated and admired by four of the World's top statisticians and journalists from the UK Mel Watman (Long time Editor of Athletics Weekly, Peter Mathews, Stan Greenberg and Bob Phillips.

   RALPH BOSTON (U.S.A) at the White City Stadium

Long jump gold medallist in Rome with 27'2½/8m12 - which was the fourth best ever at the time and beaten by only by Jesse Owens and Ralph on two previous occasions.
   Strangely enough he told me "My favourite event is the 110m hurdles, having clocked 13.7 and several time 13.9's in 1963.  This was the first event I did when I began in 1954 at Laurel Mississippi, so I suppose that's the answer to 'Why'
Last year (1963) I cleared 6' 6¾ in the high jump, so besides long and triple jumping, several fields are open to me in the sport.. Several coaches have helped me along the road to success, starting with my High school coach; my brother Peter (He cleared 24ft); Ray Kemp the University coach at Tennessee; Larry Schneider, my coach at the Olympics and Payton Jordan, coach on the 1963 European trip. He's a great psychologist, and gets you doing things you think you cannot do. There's a great deal of psychology needed today in the sport, and when after being the first to break through 8.20m barrier, the Russian broke it, then another American, somehow it's a good 'lift' to do a thing after someone else, because to break such records athletes must say 'ah well' Well he did it so can I!'
   Ralph felt his Rome win had given him a tremendous boost which could enable him to repeat the performance in Tokyo. He reached 27'5½ in the US Olympic Trials, with wind assistance.


" It was sheer chance that brought me into athletics" said Welsh star Lynn Davies, U.K long jump record holder at 26'3$frac14;, and fastest Briton  with 9.5! Born in a Welsh mining village on May 20th, 1942 this 6'1" tall, very powerfully built all-rounder (He weighed 12st 4/172 lbs) went to Ogmore County grammar School before going to Cardiff City training College. He later ran for Cardiff AC
Besides athletics, he captained the school rugby team, played football, cricket and tennis.'
After 'having a bash' in the 1960 Welsh Championships he 'realised his potential', setting a Welsh Triple jump record of 47'11$frac14; , and clearing 23'5 for a Welsh Junior long jump record.
   His most satisfying performance before 1964 was the 24'10¾ long jump versus Sweden on September the 13th 1963 and his 25'4/7.72 (4th Commonwealth Games of 1962) U.K record in Perth " A remarkable piece of luck this, because it was the only non-wind assisted jump in the final", he said.
About Lynn's coach Ron Pickering--" He has helped me enormously, and my ability has increased ten fold. In Winter in training. We concentrated on speed and power development - the keys to successful long-jumping - with 150 to 220 yards fast sprinting, and very fast 60 yards off blocks. Now (In 64) even more concentration is being given to speed over 110 and 220 yards. Ron is a great 'motivator' and tremendously enthusiastic, which is infectious and helps me greatly before competitions'  (Lynn's wife Meriel gave him encouragement of course. Lynn did lecturing  on physical education at Cardiff College of Education.  In recent times he was elected unopposed as President of the UK Members Council for further four years.)
   " I get a great deal of satisfaction and a sense of achievement out of athletics and it is more or less become my life now, with high ambitions. Looking forward to Tokyo, I hope to finish in the first 4 and clear 27feet. Unless one aims high and has such ambitions, there is really no point in competing, at least not for me. When I began I was not really interested to a great extent, but now I have to some degree modelled myself on RALPH BOSTON and IGOR-TER-OVENESYAN.

   18th of October 1964.The First six in the Olympic Final
1 Lynn Davies  8.07; 2 Ralph Boston  8.05; 3 Igor Ter-Ovenesyan 7.99; 4 Wariboko West (Nigeria) 7.60; 5 Jean Cochard (France) 7.44 and 6 Luis Felipe Areta (Spain) 7.34.
LYNN DAVIES IN TOKYO - ' Lynn the Leap' , as he is now affectionately known in his home country of Wales is one of the few athletes not affected at all by his tremendous stature in World athletics.Quiet and likeable, he is nevertheless an easy talker. First of all, when I interviewed him in the Olympic village the day following his spectacular performance he said " Well we started the preliminaries at 10' 0clok in the morning and, the conditions were appalling to say the least. We had a four metre per second wind coming straight at us down the run-up, plus very heavy rain."
' We were divided into two pools of jumpers, using two run ups were both turned into quagmires. I started off badly indeed due to mis-measuring my run-up check mark by two feet. It was not till I missed my second check mark that I realised that something was wrong so, after waisting my first jump with this error, I re-measured and found I was two feet out, and re-marked my run-up and started again. Then into the third jump and I hit the mark spot-on, accelerated and jumped 7.78 metres which is 25' 61/4  the third best qualifying jump.'
   " When I came to the final, I could not help thinking about the 'no jump' that I had with my second round of the qualifier.It led me to believe if I was spot accurate from the board I could win the competition'
   ' I have always regarded Ralph Boston as the greatest jumper there is today, and when I was up against him in the final I did not really think I had much of a chance for, besides everything else to his favour as the most likely winner before the Games, he had cleared 27'10  wind assisted effort earlier in the year which was terrific. This point only goes to prove that in fact anything can happen in such a high pitched competition as the Olympic Games'
'Boston  is a difficult man to beat any day, but I think given the right conditions I could jump well over  the 27 feet mark, and nearer 28'ft'
   I would like to come in here by saying, looking back Lynn was used to terrible conditions in England and I don't think Ralph Boston had experienced them so much in America. All credit to Lynn the great competitor he was. As Lynn said about the bad weather with the wind and rain in the final " I could see Igor and Ralph were badly effected by the rain. This was my opportunity so I grabbed it with both hands"
  The main and yet basic ingredient of my training that enabled me to take the Gold medal was strength-building I did throughout last Winter. Weight training, running hard into the wind, these have been essential sessions for me and to do a tremendous amount of gymnastic work, and to take away the monotony that can and does creep into training after a period of time in the routine,I depart to swimming, rugby and football"

Between 1964 and the Olympic in 1968 Lynn twice made the first two in the European Championships outdoors. He won  in 1966 the year he won his first Commonwealth title at the long jump. In the European in Budapest the first three were Lynn Davies 7.98; 2 Igor Terovanesyan 7.88, 3 Jean Orchard 7.88 and in 1969 in Athens it was 1 Igor Ter-Oveneysyan 8.17, 2 Lynn Davies 8.07; and 3 Tonu Lepik (Soviet Union) 8.04.


His main opposition would come from the American Trials winner Bob Beamon and Ralph Boston once again. However Lynn the previous Olympic winner, was somewhat  thrown off course after he jumped a respectable 7.94 in the second round to give him ninth place at the finish out of the sixteen qualifiers. Beamon had already won the competition with his first round leap of 8.90/29' 2½. (Klaus Beer of GDR was 2nd with 8.19 and Ralph Boston 3d with 8.16)
   Lynn told me that, an actor wrote to him after the Games and said after Beamon' s massive jump ' It must have been like an actor coming on the stage for a first night only to find he had been learning the lines for the wrong play' A great analogy!.
 Lynn Davies:-  " After that Beamon epic, there was suddenly just left a fight for second place and the silver medal, with out seeming to be big-headed or arrogant--I will state that I was just not interested in coming second. Once one has won a gold medal I feel one is never satisfied until a second gold medal is added to the collection. One sets this standard for the rest of one's athletics career, as have I. I just lost interest. I lost all heart for the rest of the competition, having been moments before  in  there with a chance for the gold medal until 'bang' --29 ' 2½ on his first jump It is difficult to describe the feeling that followed that jump. The rest of us were dazed, broken that is except Beer, who saw his opportunity for a medal--and took it. His 26' 10½ was a personal best by five inches."
           Anyway the pubs in Nateymoel, where Lynn was born, were full when Lynn Davies won in Edinburgh in 1970, representing Wales again in the Commonwealth Games, winning his second Commonwealth title with 8.06. That time from Australian Phil May who did 7.94. Alan Lerwill (England) was third with 7.86. That showed how Lynn, two years after defeat in Mexico, was back fighting every inch of the way to win another big title and prove what a really 'Great British Athlete ' he was. .
   After those Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970 Lynn said " I was pleased to win another gold medal, but not just for myself, I have said before, that when you compete for yourself, you are alone and nobody else can help you but being Captain of the team is a special responsibility, and you feel the whole team is behind you It helps being the Captain, because I felt this responsibility and it did contribute towards my performance'

Alastair Aitken

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