‘If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us’ – ST Coleridge, Biographia Literaria
Over half a century in just a few days; we move back from new world record holder, Patrick Makau in Berlin, to Alain Mimoun, the 1956 Olympic marathon champion, in Melbourne.
Permit me, dear readers, to crave your indulgence once again. These are rare occasions, but today I am advertising a new publication, a monograph on an old friend.
Regular readers, to whom I remain eternally grateful, may recall that I have mentioned Mimoun in several posts in the past, notably in March 2010, when I went to Paris for the premiere of a documentary film on his life and career.
Here is an edited extract from The Destiny of Ali Mimoun, where Alain is giving his recipe for how to be a champion.
“To be an Olympic champion, you need talent, a donkey’s never going to win an Olympic title, but talent is only a third of it, there are two thirds more. The second ‘third’ is the will to train, because you need literally to eat up the kilometres. Me, I gorged myself on 40 kilometres a day for two years, up in Corrèze, in my wife’s birthplace, without telling a soul. No publicity! In any case, I’d have been laughed out of court at 36 years old, to say, yes, this is what I’m doing, and that’s what I’m going to do.
“It was my parents-in-law who fed me, while I trained three times a day in the pure air of Corrèze. People will say nowadays, oh, I train twice a day. Me, three times! One hour first thing in the morning, before breakfast; one hour later, between eleven and midday; and two hours in the evening, between five and seven. And no two training sessions were the same, that’s the key. But you have to find out for yourself, you won’t read about that in books. It’s not like a donkey, just running, running, running. It’s scientific. You can’t become an Olympic champion if you don’t have a head on your shoulders as well.
“So, the first ‘third’ is talent, the second, the will to work, and the desire to do something with your life. And to be capable of that, I believe you have to have suffered, it’s not any mommy’s boy who’s going to achieve something, it’s not the sort who’s too well-fed. You have to have a hunger. Look at those Kenyan champions, it’s because life is hard. It was the same with me. When I was little, in Algeria, and my mother would kill a chicken for Sunday dinner, it was a real occasion. I’ve never forgotten that, sometimes I tell my wife about it…. nostalgia, eh?”
Mimoun goes on to tell us about the third ‘third’ of the recipe; and much, much more. And, I think, the ‘character’ of Alain Mimoun, to which I have referred in the past, shines through in the above passage.
This is a short book, so for those of you who prefer quantity to quality, be aware that there are only 32 pages; which is why I have included post and packaging, GB/Ireland £4.99, US/elsewhere $9.99.
Go to the home page, and click on New Book, or go directly to the books page.