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Adcocks remembers Mexico Olympics

Bill Adcocks (Getty Images)
Bill Adcocks passes a Japanese competitor in Greece (Getty Images)

With the Olympics in full swing, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire's Duncan Jones has been talking to local Olympians past, present and, hopefully, future. The latest in our series focuses on Bill Adcocks, who represented Great Britain in the 1968 Games in Mexico City.

Coventry and Warwickshire can boast a proud tradition of Olympic marathon running. Basil Heatley, born in Kenilworth, claimed a silver medal behind the great Ethiopian Abebe Bikila in the 1964 Games in Tokyo.

Four years later, it was the turn of Coventry's Bill Adcocks to challenge Bikila.

Now 66, Adcocks has given his life to athletics in Coventry but, although it is now 40 years ago, his bid for Olympic glory might just as well have happened yesterday.

"You know what they say," Adcocks told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire. "When you get older, you remember things that happened years ago more clearly than the things that happened yesterday."

Adcocks' memories of the Games of 40 summers ago are certainly vivid. Though he had recorded the fastest marathon time in the world that year in the build-up, his chances of winning gold in Mexico were slim because of the challenge of running at altitude - Mexico City is 7,500 feet above sea level.

To be away for six weeks doing the thing you loved every day, watching athletics - it was almost like being at Butlins

Bill Adcocks
"My first experience of altitude was when I got off the plane," he remembers. "I had no idea of how I was going to manage and it was a relief just to get to the finish.

"There had been a quote from the coach of Bikila two years ago that someone would die in Mexixo City."

Happily, that prediction did not come true but Adcocks was still affected by the altitude and could only finish fifth, a result he describes as respectable.

If he was secretly disappointed at not winning a medal, he did not let it spoil his Olympic experience. To give the British team a chance to acclimatise, they were away from home for six weeks and for Adcocks, who combined his athletics with a full-time job as a self-employed gas-fitter, it was the experience of a lifetime.

"To be away for six weeks doing the thing you loved every day, watching athletics - it was almost like being at Butlins," he enthuses.

The team's accommodation certainly had a holiday camp feel about it. Adcocks shared a two-bedroom flat in the Olympic village with ten team-mates.

Four athletes slept in the lounge, which caused one or two minor problems, as Adcocks recalls. "We went to bed at different times and so, at night, you'd be lying in your bed and there would be someone sitting on your bed, playing cards," he says.

In fact, the greatest moment of Adcocks' athletics career was to come a few months after Mexico City. In April 1969, he won the Athens marathon, from the town of Marathon to the Greek capital, in an astonishing two hours, 11 minutes and seven seconds.

To understand just what an achievement that was, Adcock's time that day was almost three minutes faster than the personal best of Dan Robinson, who'll be running the marathon for Great Britain in Beijing.

Along with other Olympians, Bill Adcocks' achievements will be celebrated when the Coventry and Warwickshire Olympic legends are recognised in the city on 24 August.

Enthusiasm undimmed, his example remains a shining beacon for would-be Olympians.




Athletics medals table

Sunday, 24 August 2008 10:17 UK
Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze TOTAL
1 also show each event results forUSA 7 9 7 23
Men's 100m 0 0 1
Men's 110m Hurdles 0 1 1
Men's 200m 0 1 1
Men's 400m 1 1 1
Men's 400m Hurdles 1 1 1
Men's 4 x 400m Relay 1 0 0
Men's Decathlon 1 0 0
Men's Shot Put 0 1 0
Women's 10000m 0 0 1
Women's 100m Hurdles 1 0 0
Women's 200m 0 1 0
Women's 400m 0 0 1
Women's 400m Hurdles 0 1 0
Women's 4 x 400m Relay 1 0 0
Women's Discus Throw 1 0 0
Women's Heptathlon 0 1 0
Women's Pole Vault 0 1 0
2 also show each event results forRussia 6 5 7 18
Men's 20km Walk 1 0 0
Men's 4 x 400m Relay 0 0 1
Men's 50km Walk 0 0 1
Men's High Jump 1 0 1
Men's Pole Vault 0 1 0
Women's 20km Walk 1 0 0
Women's 3000m Steeplechase 1 0 1
Women's 4 x 100m Relay 1 0 0
Women's 4 x 400m Relay 0 1 0
Women's Heptathlon 0 0 1
Women's High Jump 0 0 1
Women's Javelin Throw 0 1 0
Women's Long Jump 0 1 0
Women's Pole Vault 1 0 1
Women's Triple Jump 0 1 0
3 also show each event results forJamaica 6 3 2 11
Men's 100m 1 0 0
Men's 200m 1 0 0
Men's 4 x 100m Relay 1 0 0
Women's 100m 1 2 0
Women's 200m 1 0 1
Women's 400m 0 1 0
Women's 400m Hurdles 1 0 0
Women's 4 x 400m Relay 0 0 1
4 also show each event results forKenya 5 5 4 14
Men's 10000m 0 0 1
Men's 1500m 0 1 0
Men's 3000m Steeplechase 1 0 1
Men's 5000m 0 1 1
Men's 800m 1 0 1
Men's Marathon 1 0 0
Women's 1500m 1 0 0
Women's 3000m Steeplechase 0 1 0
Women's 800m 1 1 0
Women's Marathon 0 1 0
5 also show each event results forEthiopia 4 1 2 7
Men's 10000m 1 1 0
Men's 5000m 1 0 0
Men's Marathon 0 0 1
Women's 10000m 1 0 0
Women's 5000m 1 0 1
6 also show each event results forBelarus 1 3 3 7
Men's Decathlon 0 1 0
Men's Hammer Throw 0 1 1
Men's Shot Put 0 0 1
Women's Hammer Throw 1 0 0
Women's Shot Put 0 1 1
7 also show each event results forCuba 1 2 2 5
Men's 110m Hurdles 1 0 0
Men's Decathlon 0 0 1
Men's Long Jump 0 0 1
Women's Discus Throw 0 1 0
Women's Hammer Throw 0 1 0
8 also show each event results forAustralia 1 2 1 4
Men's 20km Walk 0 0 1
Men's 50km Walk 0 1 0
Men's Pole Vault 1 0 0
Women's 100m Hurdles 0 1 0
9 also show each event results forGreat Britain 1 2 1 4
Men's High Jump 0 1 0
Men's Triple Jump 0 1 0
Women's 400m 1 0 0
Women's 400m Hurdles 0 0 1
10 also show each event results forUkraine 1 1 3 5
Men's Pole Vault 0 0 1
Women's 1500m 0 1 1
Women's Discus Throw 0 0 1
Women's Heptathlon 1 0 0
11 also show each event results forBelgium 1 1 0 2
Women's 4 x 100m Relay 0 1 0
Women's High Jump 1 0 0
12 also show each event results forNorway 1 1 0 2
Men's Javelin Throw 1 0 0
Women's 20km Walk 0 1 0
13 also show each event results forPoland 1 1 0 2
Men's Discus Throw 0 1 0
Men's Shot Put 1 0 0
14 also show each event results forItaly 1 0 1 2
Men's 50km Walk 1 0 0
Women's 20km Walk 0 0 1
15 also show each event results forNew Zealand 1 0 1 2
Men's 1500m 0 0 1
Women's Shot Put 1 0 0
16 also show each event results forBahrain 1 0 0 1
Men's 1500m 1 0 0
17 also show each event results forBrazil 1 0 0 1
Women's Long Jump 1 0 0
18 also show each event results forCameroon 1 0 0 1
Women's Triple Jump 1 0 0
19 also show each event results forCzech Republic 1 0 0 1
Women's Javelin Throw 1 0 0
20 also show each event results forEstonia 1 0 0 1
Men's Discus Throw 1 0 0
21 also show each event results forPanama 1 0 0 1
Men's Long Jump 1 0 0
22 also show each event results forPortugal 1 0 0 1
Men's Triple Jump 1 0 0
23 also show each event results forRomania 1 0 0 1
Women's Marathon 1 0 0
24 also show each event results forSlovenia 1 0 0 1
Men's Hammer Throw 1 0 0
25 also show each event results forTrinidad & Tob 0 2 0 2
Men's 100m 0 1 0
Men's 4 x 100m Relay 0 1 0
26 also show each event results forTurkey 0 2 0 2
Women's 10000m 0 1 0
Women's 5000m 0 1 0
27 also show each event results forBahamas 0 1 1 2
Men's 4 x 400m Relay 0 1 0
Men's Triple Jump 0 0 1
28 also show each event results forMorocco 0 1 1 2
Men's Marathon 0 1 0
Women's 800m 0 0 1
29 also show each event results forCroatia 0 1 0 1
Women's High Jump 0 1 0
30 also show each event results forEcuador 0 1 0 1
Men's 20km Walk 0 1 0
31 also show each event results forFrance 0 1 0 1
Men's 3000m Steeplechase 0 1 0
32 also show each event results forLatvia 0 1 0 1
Men's Javelin Throw 0 1 0
33 also show each event results forSouth Africa 0 1 0 1
Men's Long Jump 0 1 0
34 also show each event results forSudan 0 1 0 1
Men's 800m 0 1 0
35 also show each event results forChina 0 0 2 2
Women's Hammer Throw 0 0 1
Women's Marathon 0 0 1
36 also show each event results forNigeria 0 0 2 2
Women's 4 x 100m Relay 0 0 1
Women's Long Jump 0 0 1
37 also show each event results forCanada 0 0 1 1
Women's 100m Hurdles 0 0 1
38 also show each event results forFinland 0 0 1 1
Men's Javelin Throw 0 0 1
39 also show each event results forGermany 0 0 1 1
Women's Javelin Throw 0 0 1
40 also show each event results forGreece 0 0 1 1
Women's Triple Jump 0 0 1
41 also show each event results forJapan 0 0 1 1
Men's 4 x 100m Relay 0 0 1
42 also show each event results forLithuania 0 0 1 1
Men's Discus Throw 0 0 1

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see also
Olympics blog
07 Aug 08 |  Olympics
Beijing 2008
14 Feb 08 |  Olympics
Find your local athletics club
13 Oct 05 |  Get Involved


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