Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Avard Moncur

By Alastair Aitken

Avard Moncur was born on the 2nd of November 1978 Nassau 1.96 82kg was at University at Auburn.

When did you first start competing

'Running at High School in Nassau in the Bahamas. I was just running for fun, then I saw the opportunities where I could improve my life by going to University and also going to another country, experiencing the culture in the United States. The first year I took it seriously I won the Carifta Championships.  I was 16 and from there (I noticed) I had the potential to go far (47.40) so I decided to stick with it.

Did anybody inspire you to begin with at all?

'I had always watched track and field on TV. I never really had one particular person I focused on. I always wanted to be a sprinter. Michael Johnson back in those days used to run the 200m. I had not got the speed for that. The 400 was the next best event for me. Once I saw Michael Johnson win the 400 I thought, maybe, I would regard that event and that maybe I could do that one of these days. Especially when I saw him do the Olympic record at Atlanta 43.49 in 1996 and also the World record of 43.18 in Seville Aug 1999? - I wanted to work hard and hopefully compete on his level.'

What was the motivation Avard to come into running at the start?

'I just liked to run. I knew When I was younger we had a family car. If the car was not there
I would have to walk (In Nassau Bahamas) ' I used to try to pretend I was somebody else like Michael Johnson or somebody and I would just run.  I would commentate to myself and run to school. Basically it was just a lot of fun for me. Once I did it at organised level it came natural.

At what point did you say to yourself. I really have got a good future in athletics?

'Winning the CARIFTA Championships the first year when I was in it. Once I did that 'I said woo! I guess I can take this really far'. I did it twice and the second year I got second (He ran 47.09 that year then 46.46 in '67)
And in my final year I won again. I felt I could go far with this and I ran the European circuit. (1998 46.45. 1999 45.09)

Did you meet a coach?

'In high school I had one lady who helped me out a lot and her name was Diane Thompson, my elementary school teacher in Bahamas.  We were having fun racing in the streets with my peers. Diane took me out of the streets. I stayed in contact with her all through high school.

Were your family well off and did they support you with your athletics?

'I never struggled but my family were not rich. I had most of the things that I wanted for the most part, I would never say I was poverty stricken but I would not say I was comfortable either. There were some struggles'  

What really helped you get to a good level?

'I went to Moorhouse College for one year and ran 47's and high 46's on a relay. I thought that was the World for me. The key event was just to get a college degree. I have a double degree in and then; another guy who was a mentor for me was Henry Rowe. He encouraged me to leave Moorhouse and peruse a career at
Auburn University Alabama. I did not want to go because I hated to change.
I was very comfortable in Atlanta and I did not want to leave. I was Number One and I felt if I left that, if I went to a bigger university A division One university as Moorhouse were division 2, I would fall off and basically not get where I wanted to get. But, he said that was an opportunity for me and I would have all the resources that were needed to take me to the next level and I decided to take it. Each year the improvements were just coming.
I think the climax for all that was when I realised that I could have made it to the Olympic finals
In  2000. I made it to the semi finals (1995 he ran-47.40; 1996 47.09; 1997 46.46; 1998 46.45; 1999 45.09; 2000 44.72)
Olympic semi final:=1 Alvin Harrison 44.53; 2 Michael Johnson 44.65; 3 Greg Haughton 44.93; 4 Sanderlei Parrela  45.17; 5 Avard Moncur 45.18. It was a pretty tough heat and I got fifth. Parrela dipped me on the line..
I thought I almost made the Olympic Final! My first Olympics would be tough. I felt then  'wow' if I take this really seriously I can do great things. From there my whole focus changed leading up to the next World Championships where I eventually won. 1 Avan Moncur 44.64' 2 Ingo Schultz 44.87; 3  Greg Haughton 44.98.
'I guess it has been a long road but a whole lot of surprises because I never once thought I would be at that level, it was just that I always work hard. I am a person who believes I should putting 100% in everything I do. The hard work started to pay off with good times. The times were actually a motivating factor for the World's. Running that fast. I thought if you run this fast you should try and go faster. There is always a constant desire to run better than I have run before.'

Do you have strong memories of the World Championships in 2001?

'I have very strong memories of the first round. We had to go to the training camp at Calgary. I was not with my coach Rolf Bride, the Head coach at Auburn University. I had to spend a week and a half away from him. Calgary was at altitude but I was not aware of that.  My workouts had been horrible. I felt tired and I thought that 'I won't be able to do this'.
'I thought in the first round someone will have to blow this up because I am not in shape. I was probably in one of the best heats that I had ever been in. In the first round I ran faster than even Michael Johnson did in a first round, winning in 44.88. A lot of people then said I guess you can go under 43..I thought then I could go under 43 and I still had a lot of rounds to go through. I had just finished two full indoor and collegiate seasons so there was a lot of strain on my body. To be able to come and still win I felt great  (Semi won in 44.89). I did not realise what had happened and then when I got to the hotel People were coming up to me congratulating me.
'When I went home there was a big parade, I thought I really had done something. For me it was just a race. For me to go there and try and beat the next man, that was all that it was to me but I talked to other people and it was a little more than that.
'Last year 2002 was supposed to be the transition year from collegiate track and field to run at a professional level but with the stress fracture a lot of things changed. Once I was out for two months then had to prepare in five weeks for the European season and the Commonwealth Games (1 Michael Blackwood  45.07; 2 Shane Niemi 45.09; 3 Avard Moncur 4512; 4 Daniel Caines 45.13). In the Grand prix Final he was 4th in 44.97) - and all the other meets that I went on I did not have enough time.

      His philosophy comes in here to sum it up

'You can't change the past. The only thing you can do is work hard and try and make tomorrow a better day'

Alastair Aitken

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