Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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The Truly Remarkable Tony Bowman

Tony Bowman

Veteran Special by Alastair Aitken

Tony Bowman, now a Leeds City club athlete, at 71, became the oldest person by 30 years to win the famous Powderhall Sprint 'Handicap' for professionals and amateurs, which was raced out at Musselborugh on the race course on New Years' Day. The annual event started in 1870.
Bowman, took hurdling up again seven years ago and achieved a new M70' European record for 80m hurdles with 13.49 in the British Masters at Perry Bar on the 29th of July. He broke three European age records over hurdles last year and was a World Indoor Masters Champion.
Amongst his hobbies is dancing and Tony and his partner, doing swing- jive-salsa, last March, got as far as the last 100 in the 'Strictly Dance Fever' competition with the BBC as seen on television!
Having said all that Tony Bowman, has had a few accidents in his life but his biggest 'scare' was life threatening, when he had a heart attack 18 months ago. It was not very long before that he competed in the British Masters pentathlon and, that well known international Master, Scotsman, John Ross, now 69 takes up the story "It was 30 degrees in the 1500  and I lapped Tony. He was ill. He could hardly walk after that. He was finished with athletics. He got his big problem sorted out and he is a changed man."
Tony Bowman had a 90 percent blocked artery and so they put in a 13 millimetre stent and he has never looked back and, keeps winning and breaking records. Four weeks before he won five M70 events in the British Masters Championships at Alexander Stadium, Birmingham this year, he broke the British Masters penthalon record for M70, never having done field events before.
He remarked "I am an extremely lucky person. I have got to say that.' About the Powderhall Sprint ' I am  still elated about that; I never used starting blocks before because I always get away very quickly so, I never felt  the need BUT I knew Mussselborough was going to be very wet and greasy.Four weeks before I got in touch with 'Neff's  and bought a pair of starting blocks. I practised and practised on the grass with these blocks. Had it not been for those blocks I would have been all over the place and I would not have won. I was in the right frame of mind and I had been training for it.I was on top of the World and so happy because of what happened. I had six races over two days and I won all six races.'  
Before his five victories in the British Masters at the end of July this year he cut his leg badly in the Scottish Masters and was on antibiotics while doing his events at Alexander stadium.
Looking back in time to Tony Bowman's start in the sport. He was born on the 2nd of September 1935. His Father Alec loved sport and competition and both his Father and mother came to watch the young Tony Bowman compete.. He feels a spiritual affinity with them, even though they have long gone ' I always think of my Mum and Dad. I can visualise them sitting in the stand when I am about to start races and it calms me down.'
His Father Alec took him to see the 1948 Olympics for one day and he saw Arthur Wint win the 400 and, he can still visualise the race. Amongst his heroes were  Peter Hildreth, Vic Mathews and Jack Parker plus Harrison Dillard. ' I never made the Olympics like the ' Hildreth's of this world'  he said  ' I always used to admire those hurdlers because I thought hurdling was like watching ballet in slow motion, it was so good to see.'
'I remember the first prize I got at a local public school. It was when I was about nine and it was presented to me by a film actor who recently died Kieran Moore star of 'Man about the House' he gave me a plastic kite.
'When I was 15 I was a Middlesex Champion over the hurdles and got second in the 'All England Schools' at Bradford. I joined Polytechnic Harriers when I was living in Teddington. I used to run with a track suit with 'Poly' on my back. Having been inspired by people like McDonald Bailey who ran for the club. I ran for them for a while, training at Chiswick on the cinders. I was posted to Glasgow and trained with a young Menzies Campbell  'He was some 200/400 runner!'
The club was Garscube that I ran for then.'
'I was bottling Supervisor for Whitbread's and I did that for 14 years. I must admit I have always been keen on sprinting and hurdling. As a junior we ran over the 3' 6 hurdles and, I ran 10.4 for the 100 yards when I was doing my National Service in the RAF.'
Tony Bowman gave up athletics from 26 to 42 years of age and played hockey and tennis instead. In fact now he is recognised so well, he gets free membership at David Lloyd's tennis set up' which he thinks is good as he is more hard up as an OAP. Something else was, that he used to like to smoke with a pint in the evenings but now is an adviser against smoking with the NHS.
What then is his philosophy at 71.
"I Love  Life.
My ambition is to get down to my marks and run a 100m when I am a 100 and live another 20 years'
Whether that is so or not certainly Tony Bowman is a remarkable Master that many would like to aspire to be in old age.

Alastair Aitken

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