About a year ago, while gathering research for the book I’m writing on Rodney Milburn, I was searching for any race footage of Milburn I could get my hands on. I almost gave up hope after months of inquiries into various leads that ended up falling through. But then one day while browsing through old track discussion boards on the internet, I came across a post of a man saying he had a lot of footage of old races. The post was about two years old, so I didn’t know if the guy who made it was still around, but I sent him an email anyway, figuring it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot.
I hit paydirt. The man I emailed was George Matthews, who lives in England and has been a track fan all his life. George owns footage of track meets dating all the way back to 1964. He sent me a tape that included Milburn’s 1972 Olympic final, 1973 NCAA final, and many of his races after his comeback in 1980. Also on the tape were many other races I requested – of Renaldo Nehemiah during his 1978-81 stretch of dominance, of Greg Foster and Tonie Campbell from that same era, and highlights of Edwin Moses’ career. Recently, George put together another set of races for me, including races from late in Greg Foster’s career, many Colin Jackson and Roger Kingdom races, and some footage of a young Allen Johnson. Also on the tape are some 400h races that include Derrick Adkins, Samuel Matete, and others.
The footage George has sent me has been valuable on many fronts. Firstly, the Milburn footage was essential if I was going to be able to write this book and accurately describe Milburn’s hurdling style, especially in that Olympic final. Besides that, as a track fan and passionate devotee of all things hurdle-related, having a tape with two hours of hurdle races on it fits my idea of heaven. As a coach, the footage is a great teaching tool. In those races, I can always find a hurdler whose style can serve as a model for one of my own hurdlers. When working on a specific aspect of technique – like the trail arm, for instance – I can compare/contrast how all these hurdlers used their trail arm, and make a much more informed decision regarding how my athlete should use his.
George’s tapes are in PAL format, which is used in Europe. So, for Americans such as myself, the tapes need to be converted to VHS format, and then to DVD format for playback in modern DVD players. There are plenty of video production places that do such conversions, and that can even convert a foreign VHS tape into an American DVD. Look in your local phone book or on the internet to find the place nearest you that can do it for you.
If you are interested in receiving race footage from George, I will put his email address at the bottom of this article, and I will also include it on the “Resources” page of this website, where it will stay. If you email George with a list of the races you would like to have a copy of, he’ll email you back and tell you what he has. He does charge a fee for his services, but his fees are very reasonable, and he goes through a lot of work to splice together the pieces of footage. As he told me in an email, he doesn’t do this as a business, but as “a service to track fans.” George’s library includes all events, male and female, so if you’re more of a track nut and not just a hurdle nut like me, he should be able to provide you with what you’re looking for.
© 2007 Steve McGill
George Matthews’ email address: firstname.lastname@example.org