Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Dave Moorcroft Through the Years

Dave Moorcroft is someone I would put top of the list, as far as kind and accommodating interviewees I have ever met, since I started out recording interviews in 1962 at the White City Stadium. He always gave me the time, of that there was no doubt so, it was no wonder he was so popular in the athletics World. That fact was born out by Ollie Flynn, the 30k road walking Commonwealth Champion, when he won his gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1978.
He told me David was so well liked that, they queued up in the Games village to congratulate him on his 1500m Commonwealth victory.
   In November 1976, the year he made the Olympic Final (seventh in the 1500 in 3:40.74) his coach John Anderson looked at his young charge as having an exiting future ahead of him
   " I started coaching him when he was sixteen, that placed us together for about seven years and I am impressed with Dave, not just in terms of his athletics talent but in terms of Dave Moorcroft the man. I have watched him grow up from a young lad, throughout the various stages of adolescence and then arrive at what I consider now the beginnings of maturity. He is now happily married (To Linda). He had the backing of the family of course all the way and a lot of friends
   'He has used his setbacks and disappointments as spurs towards greater achievements'
(At that point I would like to say how true that proved to be when you consider he was ill or injured at the next two Olympics and was on antibiotics before coming 3rd in the 5000 in the European of 1982 when Thomas Wessinhage won the gold)
John Anderson continues '--regarding greater achievements' --culminating this season with a place in the Olympic Final (Won by John Walker) -and a win in the Emsley Carr Mile (3:57.06) from Filbert Bayi (3:57.49)  and, Brendan Foster (3:57.71). In 8th place was a 'Great' runner of the future Seb Coe in 3:58.35 who, like Moorcroft studied at Loughborough).
   As a junior he had always admired Brendan Foster who was of course in that race and a World class 5k and 10k runner.
Dave Moorcorft was born on the 10th of April 1953 in Coventry so, it was not surprising he joined the Coventry Godiva club who had a great tradition of distance running. When he was just a boy Dick Taylor, Juan Taylor, Bill Adcocks and before that Basd Heatley were doing well for the club.
   Shooting forward to today. It was not just as a competitor Dave Moorcroft excelled. He was Chief Executive of UK Athletics from 1997 to 2007.He was awarded the MBE in 1983 and an OBE in 1998 for services to British Sport.I would like to concentrate more on his athletic achievements here.
   In 1971 when he was Junior of 18, he ran 3:46.1 in the AAA's v Loughborough Match, running for Loughborough. He finished inches behind John Kirkbride (also 3:46.1) who was fourth in the European Games.
   In 1977 I said to Dave "You have set a record in the Hyde Park Road Relays when  running for Loughborough (He also had some great relay stages on the road for Coventry Godiva in the National road relays) and placed second in the National Cross Country to Bernie Ford in 1976 and was an Olympic finalist. Which surface did he prefer running on?
   '"My specific aim is on the track but in terms of basic social and natural enjoyment I think really I enjoy cross-country. Basically I enjoy running whatever the surface. My attitude to road running and cross-country is that it is not quite so stringent as the track. The most important thing about the Winter is that the training and the races are pure enjoyment. I try not to get too worked up about cross-country and I am quite able in the Winter to have good races and have lousy races, whereas in the Summer I try much harder to make sure that every race I run in I run well.'
   A very interesting answer to a question that I put Dave Moorcroft in 1977 ' You have reached a high international plane, but do you think you can become World Class?
              ' It is conjecture really whether you make world class or not. It is very much in the lap of the gods. There are obviously a lot of people able to reach the periphery of world class; some people are able to reach world class and one or two become the top of the pile. My aim is obviously to become top of the pile but whether I do it or not is a matter time will tell. Certainly I think I can or else I would not carry on, but obviously many people think they can. I would have thought, possibly, the difference being the best and wanting to be the best is in your attitude towards that sort of pinnacle. Many people are capable of doing things; actually doing it is the big problem. It is largely in the mind I think. It is largely a matter of what is deep down in your heart and what you are capable of.'
   In 1978 was the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, on August the 12th and the first six in the 1500 were 1 Dave Moorcroft 3:35.48, 2 Filbert Bayi 3:35.59; 3 John Robson 3:35.60, 4 Frank Clement, 5 Wilson Waigwa, and 6 Glen Grant and, on September 3rd Dave Moocroft came 3rd in the European Championships in 3:36.7 behind Steve Ovett 3:35.6 and Eamonn Coghlan 3:36.6. Regarding his Commonwealth victory:-
    ' It was a predictable race in that you expected Bayi to go out and push it hard and run 3:34 so you knew what you had to do. The race was very fast and very even. There was a slight altitude problem at Edmonton, so I was aware that there was a danger of getting into oxygen debt early on. In the first lap I got baulked after 200metres but that was not too bad, so I then tried gradually to work my way towards the front. I realised that although you do not want to burn yourself out early on, if you want  to stand a chance with a guy like Bayi you have got to be with him and you have to make a commitment either to go with him and possibly die, or stay back and settle for trying to grab the bronze or something. So I hung on behind John Robson. We went through 800 in 1:55-1:54, which is faster than I have ever run through and it was into new territory, but I was not that aware of it really. You are running and see the clock says 1:55 but it does not really register and you  try not to let it register anyway.'
               In 1981 Dave won the European Cup 5000. In 1982 he was 1st in the Commonwealth 5000m in Brisbane, Australia ( 1 Dave Moorcroft (13:33.0, 2 Nick Rose 13:35.97 and 3 Peter Koech 13:36.95 )
David Moorcroft's purple patch was in 1982 when he ran 1:46.64 for 800 in the Summer, along with 3:33.79 for 1500, 7:32.79 for 3000 and 13:00.41, which is still the British Record for 5k.
Dave Moorcroft is the World Mile record holder 'Outdoors' for a man 'Over 40' which he achieved in the Summer of 1993 in Belfast. His time was 4min 02.53.
Regarding Moorcroft's fantastic time of 13:00.41 which was a World record at the time '
John Anderson told me about a week before you broke that World record that you would achieve new figures for the 5000 within a short time! '

      ' The race that made me realise I was in good shape was the Dream Mile in Oslo when I did 3:49.34. John said he thought I could break the World record and that I could run 13 minutes, but I did not believe him because he says a lot of things--Mind you,he has never been wrong yet, except when there has been a reason for it.'
'It just so happened on that day everything was right, and I happened to be in Oslo  running a 5000metres and so it produced the time. That night I could have been at Coventry Apprentice Sports in an  Invitation 3000 at the Butts, on a crummy cinder track, and I would probably have run something like 7.45 or something, which would have been remarkable and would personally be very pleasing, but would have not meant anything because of the race it was. I was just lucky that it happened to be in Oslo that night."
 Dave Moorcroft won a thrilling 3k race at Crystal Place in the Summer of 1982 from Sydney Maree (7:33.27) and John Walker (7:37.49).

Alastair Aitken

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