Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
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Anthony Noel - World Masters Champion

INTERVIEW WITH ANTHONY NOEL WORLD MASTERS CHAMPION
SATURDAY FOOTBALLER TO WORLD CHAMPION SPRINTER

By Alastair Aitken


TONY NOEL last year, was not far short of his forty second birthday when he set a British Masters 'M40' British record for the 100m of 10.74 and the 200m in 21.75. that gained him a gold and silver medal respectively in the World Masters Championship's Finals in San Sebastian in the late Summer. "Except for a calf injury at the beginning the season, about May, I had no injuries whatsoever.' he remarked.
Another factor that helped him motivate him was, when he came second behind Mark Phills, 11.00 to 11.11 in the British Championships at Birmingham in July. "That was a kick up the backside as I did not expect anyone to beat me. When he beat me that was the spur I needed. I knew then in San Sebastian I would have to run 10.8 to win it. Tony Noel's British record time of 10.74 took a 10.9 mark off the books that had been achieved by two to the 'Greatest' veteran sprinters ever, Ron Taylor and Steve Peters and, was also a time done by Ex-international Brian Green as an M40.
At 38, Tony Noel ran 48.9 for the 400m but will not do that event at Masters level and in fact took a long time to have the desire to run 200m races in his middle 30's. He had found that a difficult event to face up to doing for some time. However, last year running for Cambridge Harriers in the Southern League he ran 22.1.only one tenth behind Martin Rooney the young international 400m runner from Croydon.

The Names The Same

I would like to point out to those interested in Master Athletics that Tony Noel also competes for the Southern Counties Veterans AC. The runner up in the British 400m Championship was also called Tony Noel but he is from the Midland Vets AC and ran 52.89 that day in Birmingham.
To separate the two names, our subject is called Anthony Noel in results and the Midland Vet is called Tony Noel. However I will go on calling my subject Tony, for most of the rest of this story.
Anthony Noel reckons if he ran 400m it would be a lot faster than 52-53 for the 400 which the Midlander does, if you converted his 100/200 times to the potential he would have over the one lap event.

Background

Anthony Noel was born in Grenada on the 8th of September 1963 and came over to England when he was seven in 1970.
'My parents were very poor working class Caribbean stock. My Father was a factory worker but very good with is hands nevertheless, education was not something he was greatly enamoured with. My Mother did not reach heights in education but was quite a bright woman. Both came over here and did ordinary factory jobs.'
Despite all that, at Christopher Wren School, Hammersmith, Tony excelled at all the sports he turned his hand too but with no proper training. In fact several of his contemporise with similar ability went on to become semi-pro footballers. Tony did play school football for the district and was the rugby school Captain. After school he went into work for the Inland Revenue and gave up sport for a while and, in fact quickly rose through the ranks with his job so, it was no surprise when I met him in January at Woolwich Arsenal, to realise he was not only a charming man but was dressed very smartly too. However, going back to those early days, which included school, he felt he lacked guidance and impresses on his three boys of 20, 15, and 13 not to waste any talent in any direction that they may have.
It was in 1991/92 he got back into playing football for the Inland Revenue, once a week on a Saturday, in the Southern Olympia League, firstly mid field then moved up to play centre forward.
'It was during that period, in my early 30's I realised I was far quicker than the younger guys. I had never really had any interest in athletics as a sport before but on football training I ran 11.1 in the 1995 Inland revenue Sports Day winning that and the following year I joined Richmond & Twickenham AC and was with them for a few years. It was after that I needed a coach and, as I lived in Thamesmeade I went down to Sutcliffe Park and, that was where I met Ron Allison, a very modest man who coached. I was just a footballer at the time that could 'Run Up and Down' with no technique and at 35 he got me down from 11.1 to 10.5. Ron said to him 'You are a natural runner with good balance to begin with in any case.'
When I met Ron again in the City at the end of January he told me ' Tony Noel has good physical ability and a good brain so I could not fail with him!'
Although Tony Noel does do a few special things for himself, like improving his block work, he owes a tremendous amount to Ron Allison.
"His tanning gives you masses of strength and stamina also, setting the training sessions that whether he does it intuitively or systematically they seem to be well structured as to enable you to peek at the right time. He would say 'What competitions have you got this year'. He  will write down the training sessions in six week blocks that eventually lead up to you performing at your highest level.' Tony continues about Ron's strengths 'It's his ability to structure a training regime that is fantastic. He is very good on drills and the technical side of running. I see a lot of sprinters and their technique is all over the place. They rely on roar power. Ron's runners are technically sound.'
'What he did for me was to explain what exactly he was doing with the drills. He  broke down the running action into different components. I was able to understand exactly what it was that we were working on with these drills, to develop the style of running that I then imagined was the most efficient for me. So the first thing Ron did was to hone my technique, as prior to that in my view was not an athlete. I was a footballer who could run but not a runner."

Alastair Aitken

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