Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
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Wendy Sly Interview - 13th March 2010

Wendy Sly was born at Hampton, Middlesex in 1959. She married Chris Sly, a good middle distance runner, in October 1982.
   She was a Loughborough University student and ran for The Borough of Hounslow AC. She has been successful in business, Charity work and in all her athletics interests.
Wendy Sly had one narrow escape, after a knock on effect from mugging.That meant she needed an emergency operation to remove a blood clot from her brain but her indomitable sprit saw her through and she was very soon back in action again.
   Like Joyce Smith, Wendy Sly has been one of the 'Great' forerunners of British middle and long distance running in this country. She ran 4:30.09 for a mile behind Mary Decker of the USA (4:25.27) at Madison Square Gardens in January 1983, which was a British Indoor record and won the Madison road mile, in a course record at the time of 4:22.6.  Something I notice was she was only 19 years of age when she ran a Commonwealth 3000 record of 8:46.01 in Oslo in July 1982 and in 1983 in the Inaugural World Championship in Helsinki she beat that with a time of 8:37.06.
   At the World Cross Country Trials, Inter-Counties CCC and McCain Challenge, at Crofton Park, Birmingham on March the 13th, Wendy Sly was acting as Women's Endurance Team Manager for the Cross Countries so, I assumed she must really enjoy doing that job, looking after all the age groups.
   " I love it.' She added 'Cross-country was where I started. I get great pleasure out of seeing the children going out on a cold February or March day. I remember when I started cross country at 11 years old. I just get great pleasure out of seeing young people run.'
   She talked about her long career and the highlights she had
   "Two  Olympics, as everyone's dream is to compete in the Olympics and, I was very fortunate to win a medal''
   1984 Olympics, Los Angeles 1 Maricia Puica of Romania in 8:35.96, 2nd Wendy Sly (GB) 8:39.47, 3 Lynn Williams (Canada)  8:42.14 and 7th in 1988 Olympic 3000 in 8:52.3.
       Her memories produced some interesting points ' Probably I wish there had been long distances for women earlier. I ran in the first Olympic 3000m in 1984. 10,000 did not come in until I was towards the end of my career. I ran 31:20 on the road so I think I would have run a good track 10k, had there been one. As a youngster it meant I could only run 800 and 1500. Probably I would have run 3000 then but they did not have 3000. Looking back I think the sport was very slow in recognising that women could  compete at the same distances as men.'
   (In December 1983 in San Diego , Wendy Sly won the Inaugural women's World Road 10k Championships 32:23)              
.She continued ' I think it is a fantastic sport, coming out here to Crofton Park, Birmingham. It takes you back to when you were a child and I remember my Mum and Dad taking me to cross countries with my team mates.'
   There were other special races besides the Olympics that she remembered ' I won the 'National' senior when I was 18, where as now they have an 'Under 20' race. The National was the big thing' (1981- 1 Wendy Sly 22:09, 2 Paula Fudge (who still does well in veteran racing) 22:34 and 3 Sandra Arthurton 22:39).
        ' I was the first person to beat Greta Waitz and that was a big turning point in me having confidence really. That was on the road. It was over 15k (She ran 48.18 for that in Tampa Florida in 1983)'
' I broke two British records. One British and two personal best over 1500 (4:04.14) and 3000. All of those were big moments.'  (Another result was in the Commonwealth Games 3000 in Brisbane in 1982 when Anne Audin of New  Zealand won the 3000 in 8:45.3, Wendy Sly was second in 8:48.47 and Lorraine Moller of New Zealand was third in 8:55.76).
   I remarked that she had a wonderful athletic Life?
   ' I am still having it. I run four times a week. I look after women for the Endurance squad so, I am still involved with the athletes which I love. I think it is a sport for life Isn't it?
    I said 'One has a passion for it!'
             'Exactly' she said
Wendy Sly looked to the future
   " My goal in five years time I want to do coaching. At the moment I am too busy. I work for a small investment business and have fairly long hours so, it is not possible. In five years time I will be in a position to coach."

Alastair Aitken

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