Remembering Dr. David Martin Through the Eyes of British Great Wendy Sly


image2.jpegWendy Sly, Dr. David Martin, Seb Coe, and Seb's father, Peter Coe, photo from Wendy Sly

Wendy Sly is the Publisher of Athletics Weekly, one of the finest athletics magazines in the world. Wendy Sly is the 1984 Olympic silver medalist at 3000 meters, and a fine runner on the track, cross country and roads. Wendy worked with Dr. David Martin during the height of her career and spoke to RunBlogRun's Jeff Benjamin about the good doctor and what he meant to her.

Remembering Dr. David Martin Through the Eyes of British Great Wendy Sly - by Jeff Benjamin- 3/28

Wendy Sly is one of Britain's Greatest Distance Runners. The 1984 Olympic Silver Medalist at 3000 meters, Sly was also a world-class track, cross country , and road-race Star in a career spanning more than a decade.

Like Keith Brantley and her friend Sebastian Coe, Sly came to rely upon physical research conducted by the late Dr. David Martin (who passed away last month) for physiological as well as psychological advice using scientific research, as never done before during this era.

Here are her recollections -

"I have many memories of Dr Dave, not only for his sage words of advice delivered always with an element of wit, but for also the many trips I took to Atlanta for physiological testing.

It was a trip I took really seriously as it always told me without doubt where I was. One in Feb and one in March/April. I knew what the results should be, to be right for the time of that particular time of year and was always anxious that these were the results I would get!

He would pick me up in his VW camper van- one of several over the years- he always maintained he needed it as athletes always brought so much luggage!

The routine was simple- stop at the farmers market (I'd cook the second night) and then off to his apartment to go for an evening run and then a trip to the local Italian before waking to day one of tests.

I still have every result from the treadmill tests I did with Dave. They are very precious to me amongst all my running memorabilia. The stats were detailed and like nothing I'd seen before only ever having completed one rudimentary VO2 max test at BUPA despite at the time being one of the Worlds elite middle distance runners.

In his lab over the times I visited, he perfected the treadmill, the mouthpiece, the nose clip, and even introduced a mattress at the back of the treadmill when I ran to exhaustion and fell off the back! His sole thought was getting the best results to advise the coach where the athlete was and what they needed in training to get to the next stage and be ready for the track season or next event.

He gave me my first bone scan, and first detailed blood tests- unheard of then- and so critical for female distance runners, especially.

Muscle strength testing on a cybex highlighted any weaknesses and imbalances, things athletes take as necessary information now, then way ahead of its time.

I even went for testing when running in the water for several weeks prior, and it showed me the importance of cross training for endurance, but also that running is a specific sport and that impact is necessary.

On one of my test reports he wrote- 'she should be a 5,000m runner, a shame they don't have the distance in the Olympics'.

We met several times over the years after my running career ended, both here in the UK and at the Olympics in 2008 in Beijing, where as usual,he had navigated the city by public transport. He always managed to find his way around any city he visited. I feel privileged to have spent my running life with such a wonderful man, pioneer and great friend."

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