Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Anthony Whiteman Interview - April 2010

I last interviewed Anthony Whiteman for the BMC News, Volume 3 issue 2 in Autumn 1996 and, it was the year he set a new British Milers Club Best of 3:56.35.That broke Tim Hutching's 1982 mile record of 3:56.6.
   All these years later, on April 17th, we talked before the National 12 Stage road relay in Sutton Park. At the age of 38, having completed his international career, he still had the fire and enthusiasm for the sport. At Sutton Park he took Shaftesbury Harriers from 47th to 35th on Leg 2 for the 9th fastest of the 406 recorded times.
   As a matter of interest he set M35 British Indoor records of 1:52.82 in Sheffield on 13/2/10 and 1500m with 3:50.72 in London on 27/2/10.
   Regarding the National Road Relay, 12 Stage Championships, he said beforehand " My club Shaftesbury have a great tradition with the event. Unfortunately now the team is not as strong as it once was. This was one of the events I missed being in the team and, running a fast leg'
   His philosophy now is something special to him and, if one also considers his Mother Anne ran 2:59.54 for 2nd in the World Vets Marathon at one time. ' We have got the genes. We grow old gracefully!'
   Anthony Whiteman still like a challenge though, as he shows in his work with 'Camp Kelly' but he insists with racing now ' I don't plan anything. If we have the Camp Kelly meeting before the BMC at Sports City I will be in that. I have not any racing plans. That is what athletes have when they have a career. This is me, enjoying the fact I can still run. Enjoying the process of running as much as competing. You need to feel alive. You are a long time retired. When you are a long time retried you wish you could run!
   'Technically I am a vet now at 38. A great kind of blanket to have. I can always say I am a vet now.'
   'I am involved in a mentoring process with 'On Camp Kelly' dealing with younger athletes. I am winding them up in races. You don't want to be Beaton by an old man! In the event, hopefully, it motivates them not to get Beaton by 'The Old man' and train a little harder. There are a few athletes in the country who are going to make sure they don't run too slow because I will be right there, enjoying myself, behind them and enjoying the fact they have had to run quite hard to beat me.'
   Many, many, years ago when Anthony Whiteman was 17/18 he attempted a half marathon and ran 1:15
   'I was a bit scared of the distance. There were a group of athletes running just under 6 minute mileing. I stayed with them as long as I could then, when I felt I was close to the finish, I ran the last 3 miles in 5.30. The people I had been with at '10' said that was  such a mature way to run. You are the youngest in the group of us old guys who ran too fast too early. You have run the right sort of race. I guess learning how to run is important'
   When I was at the Jubilee Cup in Hendon two or three seasons ago, Anthony Whiteman, was doing a 400m on a relay for Shaftesbury!
   ' A miler is a 'Jack of All Trades'. You have got to be strong enough to run a Half Marathon at a good pace. Plenty of good milers have done that and, to be able to keep up with the guys in the relay too. That is why I like to get to train with 400m runners and with marathon runners.
   In Catania in August 1997 Anthony Whiteman won the World University Games 1,500 Final in 3:43.57 from Carlos Garcia (Spain) 3:43.97 and Antoni Travassos (Portugal) 3:44.14 so his memory of that time was quite vivid
   ' It was weird. I talk about it now. It was the day Princess Diana died the night before. The morning of the race there was a rumour going through the team that we were going home and were being pulled out, as a mark of respect. I said my Final is tonight! I was clear favourite and I wanted to win the race. Once I won the race it was a muted kind of celebration. It was deemed disrespectful of me charging round the track because the way the team was. I kind of remember it more for those reasons. It was good from an athletic position to win the race, especially in a season I had not been selected fro the World Championships. I felt that was wrong not being selected but, having vindicated myself by running 3:32.43 beating Noureddine Morceli (on the 16th of August) in Monte Carlo That Monte Carlo race sticks in my mind. I remember with 100m to go passing him. That was emotional because, there was someone who was one of the reasons why you did the sport. He was the connection to me from myself to Sebastian Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram because he was racing those guys, when he was young, and was taking the records they set.'
   ' It was the connection between me and him and running 3:32. That to me was a rival as a top distance runner. I was actually part of that discussion in passing that athlete. It was not like he was running particularly badly. He was still running well but I had  run well enough to beat him.
   'I ran 3:32 three times in separate years (1997 3:32.34; 1998 3:32.69 in Zurich and 3:32.43 in Monte Carlo in 2002.)
   I can remember  being surprised when Tony ran 1:45.8 to win the Grand Prix 800 in London in August 2000.
   ' It was a surprise 1:45.8, as I had run so many 800's when I ran 1:47--on my own.  Sit me on a track in May and I would always do that. If I am in a race and not pushing the pace, relaxed with good athletes around me.
   ' That Crystal Place race was the only opportunity I had of being in a race where the runners were 1:44/1:43 guys.'    ' I was in a discussion on a panel with Tim Hutchings and Eamonn Martin. Tim stood up and said he believed I could have run 1:43. I actually agree with him. I never got enough races of that standard to find out.'
   ' 3:32 was probably my limit  over 1500 and I think I achieved that over a  number of occasions but I never stepped off the track and said. ' That was the best 800 race I could ever do'.
' I think a nice Summer's evening on the Mediterranean coast, in a race where it was won in 1:42 and I was in good shape, I would have forced myself to stay with pace and that was the sort of race I wanted.'
   ' I had a discussion with young 'talented' Michael Rimmer who managed not to run 1:43 in a race where  everyone else ran 1:43 because, he completely messed up the race, You have got to look at why you did that?. Those opportunities which are 2 or 3 in your career NOT in 2 or 3 years but, in your whole career you get to do that!'
' I am lucky, as on three occasions (over the 1500) I found  I could get the best out of myself because everything was perfect."

Alastair Aitken

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