trained so incredibly hard when he was at his best (he did sub1.43/1.44 all years from 1994-2000 !), and it is to great inspiration to talk to a person like him. He had the talent, but he also did all the dedication and work needed. We discussed some training, and he gave me some good tips. I like his type of person – very pratical in the thinking, and extremely result oriented.
I remember¨when I was a young 1500 meter runner in 1997. I did a race in Finland, where I ran 3.48 for my first international meeting. It was a youth race in the middle of the Helsinki Grand Prix. Vebjørn ran the 800 meter there, and was our GREAT hero after winning the Olympics the year before. I will never forget how he took care of us younger runners after our races – talking to us, giving us tips and just being positive and down to earth to us. He was the only one of the Norwegian and Nordic athletes in general who did so, and it showed what a great character he has. That means 100 times more for a young runner then just reading about it in the press.
I have only seen that kind of character in one other top athlete – and that is Sebastian Coe. I had a similar experience in 1998, when I was still only running 1.51 in the 800 meters. I ran a youth race at the Bislett Games Grand Prix, and got second. After the race, I managed to get into the VIP section, where I knew Seb Coe was. Together with Vebjørn, he has always been my running hero. So I approached him, and introduced myself ( I already knew his father Peter Coe well, and had visited Mr. Coe in England previously). What Seb did, was to start asking me about my training. When I said it is going well – he just laughed and said : “Not good enough, I want details”. So I ended up discussing MY training day by day, with the man who did 1.41 in the 800 meter back in 1981 ! That kind of interest in a young athletes is nothing by admiring.
Even thought I will probalby never reach the levels of Vebjørn and Seb, I still know that we have young athletes who look up to even athletes like myself. One of the reasons being that it has been years since a Norwegian run somewhat fast in the longer distances, and mzungos in general fall behind all the time. So I at least try to stay in touch with some of the up and coming athletes. Thatis also one of the reasons why I spend so much time on this page – to inspire younger athletes.
Like my former coach at York high school, Mr. Joe Newton, whispered in my ear right before I went back to Norway in 1996 : “If you ever reach the top, never forget the young people who come behind you”
All well, Marius