Track Coach

From The Mailbox

Former Track Coach editor Kevin McGill is a coach, clinician, a contributor to these pages and other journals, and an unabashed aficionado of the javelin and hammer. His remembrance of javelin master Steve Seymour appeared in TC issue #229.

Dear Ed [Fox, Publisher]

Thanks for getting the [Steve] Seymour piece into issue #229. His daughter is overjoyed. By looking through two enormous scrapbooks [of his] I was able to tell her about the people who knew her father that she had no knowledge of. He had a good connection with Track & Field News from Day One.

Russ [Editor Russ Ebbets] sent me the article while we were in Göteborg, Sweden, on our trip through Scandinavia by Eurail. That was quite a trip, and I am now a huge fan of Eurail. Would do it again!

I have mentioned in some articles that back in 1962, I went to the Library of Congress to get more information on the javelin. The only track book in English was Ken Doherty’s book, which I had. There was one other book that seemed to be on the javelin, and this was “Til Topps Med Spydet” by Egil Danielsen, published in 1957, after he won the 1956 Olympics. I decided, at age 16, to copy the info, and I wrote to the publisher in Oslo, Norway. Got a note back. . . send money order, we send you the book. I got the book, bought a Norwegian grammar book and dictionary, which I still have.

So, I read the grammar book and realized. . . I could read the book by using the dictionary. There is a connection to English. I translated the parts on training, and somehow discovered the “Javelin Club of Great Britain.” I sent them my translation and was contacted by a fellow named Brian Sextion, up in Canada. He invited me up there to speak on the javelin, or more precisely. . . on my translation. My parents were not wealthy by any means, but once my mother read the letter she said, “You are going.”

McGill and statue

I got up there, stayed with Brian, and did my talk. . . my first clinic!

Then in 1970, when my son was a newborn, a high school friend visited with a friend from Norway. I told him about the book, and he offered to translate it fully. I gave him the book and never saw it again.

Flash forward to 2003, and I got a trip to Hungary for an incredible hammer conference. At the conference a fellow named Lars Ola Sundt, from Oslo, came up to me and said, “I have a present.” He handed me a wrapped edition of the book, reprinted in 1977!

Then earlier this year, Egil posed in front of his statue, which had been moved to the track in Hamar, from the Olympic Hall on the other side of town. My wife decided during the summer, let’s go to Scandinavia! “And maybe see the statue,” I thought. We landed in Copenhagen and she agreed to think about going to Hamar, about 90 minutes north of Oslo by train. Thanks to the Norwegian Federation I knew exactly where to go to see the statue.

It was cold and rainy—as you can see—but viewing the statue brought a bit of closure for me, the boy who had translated his book on the javelin. Egil Danielsen had died at age 85 a few months before our trip, but it was a thrill for me to see the statue!

The bus driver to the site and back: “Never heard of him!” The kid at the 7/11 near the parking lot had not heard of him either. But I told them all he was a great javelin champion and they could be proud of him—a true Norwegian hero of the past.

Kevin McGill