Running with Fire: The True Story of Chariots of Fire Hero Harold Abrahams
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Immortalised in the film 'Chariots of Fire', Harold Abrahams remains one of the all-time-great British Olympians. But his true story, told for the first time in this official biography, is in many ways even more dramatic and moving than the distorted version previously seen on the big screen. Although it is true that Abrahams overcame anti-Semitism to become Britain's first 100 metres Olympic champion in 1924, Mark Ryan's powerful book reveals just how much more Harold suffered - and had to sacrifice - on a personal level before he reached the top. His book how disgracefully Harold was treated by his own side in the build-up to Hitler's Berlin Olympics of 1936. Two remarkable love stories provide the back-drop to Abrahams' struggle to reach these two historic Games, first as an athlete and then as a pioneering broadcaster. Both romances highlight the mental fragility usually masked by Harold's physical prowess and apparent confidence. As the story races on, the reader is able to share Abrahams' excitement as he realises that Roger Bannister has what it takes to break the four-minute-mile barrier, and befriends the runner who soon begins his assault on the "Everest of athletics." And finally, Ryan shows how Harold not only helped to shape the modern-day rules of the sport as an influential administrator, but also did more than any man to make athletics popular in this country. In the build-up to London 2012, there has never been a better time to celebrate Harold Abrahams' unique story.
as being so unfair to the less successful chaps.’ Fortunately the preparatory training for the daunting assault on the four-minute mile had been much heavier than Chataway’s smoking. Bannister and his friends were now ready to make their hard work count. They targeted May 6, 1954. Oxford University were to take on an Amateur Athletic Association team at Iffley Road. The idea was for Chris Brasher and Chataway to set the pace in the selected race. Then, when the time was right, Bannister would
would dominate the headlines again in the summer of 1976 – at the Olympics in Montreal. Perhaps Harold Wilson foresaw this. When the time came to debate the South Africa question at the 1976 IAAF Congress, only Harold stood up to be counted as a friend of the country where so many of his relatives still lived. A newspaper report revealed: ‘Harold Abrahams of Great Britain, the only delegate to speak in support of continued South African membership, said he opposes apartheid but did not believe
found long woollen pants an excellent garment for this purpose, even if not a becoming one.’ Running dominated Harold’s thoughts, whether at home, on the underground or out on the track. At meal times he didn’t eat excessively, but neither did he imagine for a moment that what he ate would in itself bring him victory. The key to success, he concluded, wasn’t so much a punishing diet as sensible, regular eating, advice suggested to him by Adolphe who also stressed the importance of ‘regular
was the decision I never had to make. It was made for me. Rather painfully, but it was made. Now I could not be accused of retiring because I was afraid of being beaten – indeed, all sympathy was with me on my enforced departure. I wonder, in a sense, if it was not another piece of good bad luck. It is difficult to climb to the top of the ladder in any sport, but so much more difficult to stay there. Of course one shouldn’t mind being beaten; many people, perhaps, do not. I did; which is why my
room. Since Scholz was also running in Amsterdam, he could hardly have said anything else. To admit to even a half-hearted conversation along those Machiavellian lines back in Paris might have jeopardised his own involvement in the latest Olympics, in addition to Paddock’s. And despite the collective denials, the most likely scenario is that Paddock did raise the possibility of systematic false-starting prior to the Paris final. After careful consideration the scheme was dismissed, perhaps even