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Australia uncovered the most unorthodoxed athlete that you could find. Today it is all about the training and athletes now train full time, consume protein and basically live and breathe their discipline. But in 1958, Herb Elliot described in Sydney as an enigma of world athletics.
Herb Elliot went against what every expert was telling him and defied all training programmes by smoking at least 20 cigarettes a day, drunk as much beer as he liked and regularly went to dances and movies and there was no such thing as a early night for him.
Elliot was the youngest four minute miler in history, and at 19 was a long gangly 19 year old tipped by his coach, Percy Cerutty to cut mile times to ribbons that year.
He was said to be barely trying when he set a new personal best at 3.59.59 and had only interclub competition to push him for the first half mile. He had to run the last half on his own and since that day he managed to break the 4 min three more times.
His trainer tries hard to keep Elliot to a strict training schedule but this goes out the window sometimes and he gets bored with it all and prefers to go surfing some days instead.
Ceruttly says he has never seen such a perfect built athlete and that a more perfectly built miler has never been born. He goes on to say that Elliot has great lung power, long legs, a beautiful carriage and a phenomenally low heart beat which is ideal for gruelling mile races.
With his rival Merv Lincoln, they should fight out the mile at the Empire games in Cardiff at a time of at least 3.55.
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