It was at the 2017 European Indoor Championships, in Belgrade, Serbia, that @runblogrun was able to update Lord Coe and Wendy Sly on the health of Dr. David Martin. They had both been concerned about his fading health. Both Lord Coe and Wendy Sly noted, at the time, how much Dr. Dave meant to them, and how they would very much like to honor him. Coe had worked with Dr. David prior to the 1984 Olympics (silver 800 meters/gold, 1,500 meters) as had Sly as well (silver, 3000 meters). Dr. David Martin was a lion of a man, who took scientific knowledge and showed coaches and athletes how to practically apply it to modern training. It was obvious that both Lord Coe and Wendy Sly held Dr. Dave, as many called him, in high esteem and with much affection.
Here’s a thoughtful rememberance from Lord Coe, who, with the triumvarite of Peter Coe (Coach), John Durkin (biomechanics), Dr. David Martin (physiology) advising him, won a silver medal in the 800 meters ( his second, won first in 1980) and his second gold at 1,500 meters (again, his second, his first in 1980) in Los Angeles in 1984.
Special thanks to Jeff Benjamin, for working with Keith Brantley, Wendy Sly and now, Seb Coe on their thoughts on the late Dr. David Martin.
Sebastian Coe Remembers The Late Dr. David Martin
By Jeff Benjamin
When Sebastian Coe learned of the passing of Dr. David Martin last month, the IAAF Chief reflected upon the loss of the last member of his American advisor training triumvirate.
“My father Peter was my coach of course,” said Coe. “But Joe Newton, John Durkin and David Martin were all part of my American team.”
Newton, the Legendary “Long Green Line” York HS Coach, collaborated with noted Podiatrist Dr. Durkin along with Martin, who specialized in physiology. “During that time, the Americans were far ahead in terms of utilizing the scientific, physiological and psychological components in training theories,” said Coe. “They were actually putting it all into practice.”
That American team would help propel Coe to Athletics greatness, as the multiple world record holder and 2-time 1500 Olympic Gold Medalist (The only one!) benefitted from each of their unique talents and philosophies which would comprise all of the components which made Coe a Champion.
“Joe Newton was the master motivator of course,” said Coe. “Dr. Durkin helped with biomechanics and foot strike.”
But it was David Martin, whose expertise on the inner workings of the athletic human body, who laid the final American layer on Coe’s training structure.
Out of the trio, Coe and his father met Martin first. The duo first encountered Martin in Czechoslovakia at the 1978 European Championships. “I was watching the Champs and David was advising a Polish High Jumper,” recalled Coe. “We all struck up a conversation and he was a bandwidth of intellect who physiologically had a real feel for the body’s mechanics.”
From that point forward Martin became one of his team. “He was from a different planet as far as ideas were concerned,” said Coe. “He had pretty good ideas about how to climb to the peak of middle distance.”
But Martin was not one-dimensional. “It didn’t matter if you were from the Roads or the Track,” said Coe. “Dave was able to combine his complicated theories and make them understandable to anyone who’d listen,” said Coe.
“You have to remember that I was a young, liberal arts university student at that time so Dave’s style of simplifying his theories was very helpful to me,” Coe quipped! “He didn’t overcomplicate things, and everything he talked about made sense.”
Coe’s relationship with Martin wasn’t just from a consulting standpoint either.
“Dave was a dedicated runner, and when I’d visit him in America I’d be going for a recovery run and Dave would join me,” said Coe. “Sometimes he’d already have run 100 kilometers (over 60 Miles!) in the mountains before continuing to join me…he had a true passion in what he did to help Runners and he took great joy in seeing his athletes improve.”
What’s quite unique about Coe’s team is that they never stepped on the toes of each other. “Peter was the coach, Joe was the motivator, John was the biomechanic and Dave was the Physiologist,” said Coe. “No one ever tried to outshine the other…they knew their talents and respected and truly had strong feelings for each other and their unique talents and passions…their was a mutual embrace and admiration for each other…and my dad was kindred spirits with them all, especially Dave.”
With Martin’s passing comes the end of an era, an era made all the more special by the fact that all four of Coe’s not only shared ideas, but feelings of genuine loyalty and affection.
“I was very lucky to have these people who knew their skills and uniquenesses and how they were all able to all work in tandem,” concluded Coe.
“Like for each of them, for Dave his work was his Life.”