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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Peter Donovan - 50 years since breaking the Pro Running 600 yds World Record

Peter Donovan - 50 years since breaking the Pro Running 600 yds World Record

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http://www.stawelltimes.com.au/news/local/sport/athletics/celebrating-peter-donovans-achievement/2552589.aspx?storypage=0

Celebrating Peter Donovan's achievement
Stawell Times
11 May, 2012




STAWELL - It has been fifty years since Stawell resident Peter Donovan set the world record for the 600 yard event at the Stawell Athletic Club's Easter Gift meeting at Central Park.

The record had previously been held by Jack Fitt since 1931 and as a 21 year old, Donovan was confident he could break it that day.

He takes up the story:

"Competing at Stawell was always exciting. I was fairly confident that I could break the world professional record, as I had achieved the record during time trials set up by my trainer, Len Templar. On the day, although there was a big crowd, I only heard the voices of people I knew who were there to support me. It was something to be quite proud of, as the record had stood for over 30 years, and it attracted quite a bit of interest. The race was over one and half laps of the Central Park distance track, and started near the current SAC office. This meant running over the uphill section of the track near the scoreboard twice. I had to wait until three timekeepers had checked their readings before it was announced that the record had been broken by one second," Donovan said.

Donovan's professional 600 yard world record time was one minute and 11 seconds and was set in just his third season of competing in professional athletics.

In his first season (1959/60), he only ran three or four races but several trainers spoke to him, including Ballarat Football Club coach Len Templar.

At the Stawell Easter Gift meeting, Templar told Donovan's father that he would take him on and have him winning next year.

Donovan was living in Ballarat at the time, and training involved six repetitions of either 440 yards or 880 yards with three minute breaks in between.

He also did weights training and road work.

"Although I had competed in several mile races, in 1962 I decided to train for the half mile (880 yards) and 600 yards events. In private time trials during training, I had already achieved the world record time, so I knew I could do it if I ran well on the day. We asked permission from the Stawell Athletic Club to make an attempt on the 600 yards professional world record during the final on Easter Monday. As I was running from a mark of 20 yards, a second tape was set up 20 yards past the race finish," Donovan said.

"I was disappointed not to have won the race, but the virtual scratch mark of 20 yards proved to be a big ask and I finished third. I won my heat of the 600 yards on the Saturday and was unofficially clocked at 48.7 seconds over the first 440 yards, which was a good time for that distance, without going the extra 160 yards."

Donovan said 'it was a personal achievement to break the record' on April 23, 1962 and he continued to compete at gift events around Victoria, where he had the anomaly of being the fastest runner but not actually winning.

"It was hard to continue competing when you knew you could win a heat and reach the final and not get any further. The handicapping at that time was fairly tough on athletes who had achieved success. I continued to train and compete, but a few more wins would have been good," he said.

Donovan moved back to Stawell with his family in 1977 and has been a committee member of the Stawell Athletic Club for more than 30 years.

"I have never lost my passion for athletics and the SAC. Although injury eventually forced me out of competitive running, I have been able to contribute to the sport in various voluntary administrative roles ever since. The SAC has a very rich history, which I am pleased to have been a part of," he said.

Donovan was inducted into the Stawell Athletic Club Hall of Fame in 2009 and served as president of the SAC in 1985 and 2000, and was made a life member in 1998.

Peter's greatest contribution in recent years has been his instigation and organisation of the Stawell Athletic Club Calcutta, which has become such an important part of the Easter weekend since 1994.

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Admin wrote:http://www.stawelltimes.com.au/news/local/sport/athletics/celebrating-peter-donovans-achievement/2552589.aspx?storypage=0

Celebrating Peter Donovan's achievement
Stawell Times
11 May, 2012




STAWELL - It has been fifty years since Stawell resident Peter Donovan set the world record for the 600 yard event at the Stawell Athletic Club's Easter Gift meeting at Central Park.

The record had previously been held by Jack Fitt since 1931 and as a 21 year old, Donovan was confident he could break it that day.

He takes up the story:

"Competing at Stawell was always exciting. I was fairly confident that I could break the world professional record, as I had achieved the record during time trials set up by my trainer, Len Templar. On the day, although there was a big crowd, I only heard the voices of people I knew who were there to support me. It was something to be quite proud of, as the record had stood for over 30 years, and it attracted quite a bit of interest. The race was over one and half laps of the Central Park distance track, and started near the current SAC office. This meant running over the uphill section of the track near the scoreboard twice. I had to wait until three timekeepers had checked their readings before it was announced that the record had been broken by one second," Donovan said.

Donovan's professional 600 yard world record time was one minute and 11 seconds and was set in just his third season of competing in professional athletics.

In his first season (1959/60), he only ran three or four races but several trainers spoke to him, including Ballarat Football Club coach Len Templar.

At the Stawell Easter Gift meeting, Templar told Donovan's father that he would take him on and have him winning next year.

Donovan was living in Ballarat at the time, and training involved six repetitions of either 440 yards or 880 yards with three minute breaks in between.

He also did weights training and road work.

"Although I had competed in several mile races, in 1962 I decided to train for the half mile (880 yards) and 600 yards events. In private time trials during training, I had already achieved the world record time, so I knew I could do it if I ran well on the day. We asked permission from the Stawell Athletic Club to make an attempt on the 600 yards professional world record during the final on Easter Monday. As I was running from a mark of 20 yards, a second tape was set up 20 yards past the race finish," Donovan said.

"I was disappointed not to have won the race, but the virtual scratch mark of 20 yards proved to be a big ask and I finished third. I won my heat of the 600 yards on the Saturday and was unofficially clocked at 48.7 seconds over the first 440 yards, which was a good time for that distance, without going the extra 160 yards."

Donovan said 'it was a personal achievement to break the record' on April 23, 1962 and he continued to compete at gift events around Victoria, where he had the anomaly of being the fastest runner but not actually winning.

"It was hard to continue competing when you knew you could win a heat and reach the final and not get any further. The handicapping at that time was fairly tough on athletes who had achieved success. I continued to train and compete, but a few more wins would have been good," he said.

Donovan moved back to Stawell with his family in 1977 and has been a committee member of the Stawell Athletic Club for more than 30 years.

"I have never lost my passion for athletics and the SAC. Although injury eventually forced me out of competitive running, I have been able to contribute to the sport in various voluntary administrative roles ever since. The SAC has a very rich history, which I am pleased to have been a part of," he said.

Donovan was inducted into the Stawell Athletic Club Hall of Fame in 2009 and served as president of the SAC in 1985 and 2000, and was made a life member in 1998.

Peter's greatest contribution in recent years has been his instigation and organisation of the Stawell Athletic Club Calcutta, which has become such an important part of the Easter weekend since 1994.

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If Len Templar offered to train Donovan in 1960, that makes him training runners for over 50 years? How old is lenny templar?

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