This is the cover of Mel Watman’s new book, “My Life in Athletics”. It is reviewed by Elliott Denman, who has known Mel since 1958, the year I was born. Mel has covered every Olympics since 1960 and worked at Athletics Weekly since 1952 (he retired years ago). Every time I hit a track meet in London or Birmingham, Mel is there, along with his good friend, Stan Greenburg. I have learnt so much from these two men, reading Mel’s coverage and asking them questions about our amazing sport.
Read the review, then, buy this book, and read it. You will become a better track fan!
“MY LIFE IN ATHLETICS”
HAS IT ALL FOR HIS SPORT’S
FANS AND HISTORIANS
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
There are track records and there are field records.
There are indoor records and there are outdoor records.
There are road-racing records and there are track-racing records.
There are single-event records and there are multi-event records.
There are records for running over barriers – the hurdles, as well as the steeplechase.
There are records for not running at all – racewalking records.
And you can check ’em out, check ’em out by traveling a wide array of different routes these days – on-line, off-line, stats books, encyclopedias, all kinds of annuals and specialty publications,
etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Google all this any which way you can.
But, until the tail-end of the year 2017, it was likely impossible to
determine just which human, which journalist, which stats-keeper, which devotee of the sport, had filed more words, more details, more numbers, on records achieved in all those listed categories, than any other.
We can now tell you that this man likely is Mr. Melvyn Watman, resident of the London borough of Stanmore.
Unlike all those other records, which fall into defined categories, and have well-reputed record-keeping apparatus, this record is impossible to prove.
But Mel’s claim to the record is as strong as anyone’s.
His first by-line appeared in Athletics Weekly magazine in 1954.
And you’ve likely seen it in a zillion other places since them.
With his 80th birthday approaching – May 2018 – Mel came up with yet another brilliant idea – to chronicle it all in a magnificent reminiscence of all that he has seen and written about all these years.
And now the finished product is out – a truly tremendous 510-page
opus appropriately titled “My Life In Athletics.”
Yes, it’s all there – well not exactly a full summary of the many million words he’s tapped out on all subjects within his sport, but a darn good recap of all the immortal athletes he’s seen at their moments of peak performances, all the epic competitions he’s witnessed, all the best of the best.
It’s at least quarter-million more words on the sport that’s been such a huge part of his life. It’s been published privately and so now you can order your copy directly from Mel (see instructions at bottom of the review).
Full disclosure: I’ve known Mel since “way back when” and continue to count him as one of my oldest and dearest friends.
Lindy Remigino has a lot to do with this story.
When the Manhattan College graduate won the Olympic 100-meter title at Helsinki in 1952, he was spotlighted in a World Sports magazine feature article.
Already a veteran letter-writer, I posted a comment to the World Sports editors, and they were kind enough to publish it, with my
home mailing address conveniently listed.
Well, Mel replied to my reply and I can now tell you it was the start of (I surely hope Mel also sees it this way) a wonderful friendship.
The Denmans of New York City were most happy to serve as tour guides to Mel for his first trip “across the pond” back in 1958
and it was a memorable two weeks in all respects for all of us.
So, here we here are all these years later, still corresponding, still convening wherever possible at the sport’s major occasions,
still comparing notes and views and analyses.
And yes, still thankful to Mr. Lindy Remigino for getting this process started. It can safely be said that no one was more elated at
Lindy Remigino’s recent induction into the National Track and Field
Hall of Fame,located at the Armory Track and Field Center in New York, than Mel and I.
And – since his first Olympic Games at Rome in 1960, Mel has seen ’em all, written about ’em all.
“To me, Rome 1960 will always evoke the sight of Wilma Rudolph dwarfing her rivals physically and speed-wise,” Mel wrote.
And on and on this process has continued.
To Mo Farah, and so many more…clear through to the London World Championships of 2017.
“A dream come true” was Mo Farah’s reaction to being awarded a knighthood, the first active athlete to be so honoured,” Mel wrote.
“I am so happy to be awarded this incredible honour from the counry that has been my home since I moved here at the age eight….”
In between Wilma Rudolph and Mo Farah are the stories of all the
greats, Great Britain’s own Daley Thompson, Steve Cram, Seb Coe, Steve Ovett, Kelly Holmes, Paula Ratcliffe, Linford Christie, Godon Pirie, Jonathan Edwards, Don Thompson, etc etc.etc.
And the Rest of the World’s Carl Lewis,Usain Bolt, Maurice Greene, Michael Johnson, Lee Evans, Hicham El Guerrouj, Wilson Kipketer, David Rudisha, Edwin Moses, Abebe Bikila, Ezeikel Kemboi, Kevin Young, Glenn Davis, Robert Korzeniowski, Sergey Bubka, Valeriy Brumel, Ashton Eaton, Dan O’Brien, Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Flo-Jo Griffith-Joyner, Tirunesh Dibaba, Yelena Isinbayeva, Heike Dreschler, Valerie Adams, etc etc etc.
The track and world universe can count itself fortunate to have a Mel
Watman to chronicle its great participants and great events all these years.
And it’s time for his sport to say thank you to Mel for finding the time to do some amazing time-travel, putting it all between these
brilliant 510 pages.
You can purchase My Life in Athletics directly from Mel Watman.
To order the book, write to Mel Watman at 13 Garden Court, Stanmore HA7 4TE, UK with your name and postal address. For US customers, the price (inclusive of postage) is $25 if sent direct from the printers (may take up to 4 weeks to deliver) or $35 if sent by express airmail by the author (should take only a few days to arrive). Payment by cash or by check (drawn on a UK bank) payable to M Watman or direct to his bank account (details on application). Sorry, no credit cards or PayPal.