It’s 4:22 AM Mountain Standard Time June 25, 2016. Garry is completing this blog post with a pure heart, a clear mind and a steady hand. All good signs because at 7:00 AM he will be at the wheel of his beloved Titanium RAV 4, headed for the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. With God as his co-pilot he will safely deliver pal Dave and three ALTIS athletes of impeccable character and supreme dedication to their sport.
According to fellow Brit Greg Rutherford (2012 Olympic Gold Medalist in the Long Jump) Steve Lewis has had a rough go in Europe during “the worst possible weather conditions” as evinced by a meet in Whales that had to be moved inside due to a severe downpour. He will compete in his National Trials this weekend.
Constancy Delaney remains at large after conversations with an aunt and a sister failed to provide any leads. I have enlisted a fellow classmate in my sleuthing who poses the question, “Does that mean she doesn’t want to be found?”
The following interview with John Godina, CEO of ALTIS World was held on a windy morning on the athletic fields of Paradise Valley Community College. Picture courtesy of http://altis.world/news/godina-looks-to-global-future-for-altis/
Garry: Well, you know, Dave and I feel privileged to be hanging out in your yard, as it were, and not have to pay rent. Nobody has given us a hard time or anything. John: Squatter’s rights. Garry: Squatter’s rights, yeah, yeah. People have been great and everything, but I read this on Twitter, which means I’ve already let it get away from me so I can’t quote it directly. It’s an age thing. Anyway, it was the first time I ever saw you interviewed and you gave an overview of your dream (ALTIS World). I was blown away. How did all this come about? We know about your staggering success as an athlete. But now you have a chance to do something that has absolutely never been done before. Something that could change the entire landscape of track & field the world over. John: Well, the whole idea was I had a lot of friends that had no system and it was pretty easy for me because I won very early in the game. It made life a lot easier for me. There are a lot of people that had no support system, no way to get coached or facility access or medical access.
My idea was, well let’s just build something that they would be able to access. I had some experience in the sport and fitness industry, kind of generally run those kinds of businesses. I just knew over time that investors were going to get something for their money because the cost of service for a league athlete is so high, that’s why it’s never been done before.
You just have to figure out a way to prove to them it’s worth it. I think that’s what we’ve done. Now it’s a matter of ‘let’s try and help everyone’. We’ve gone into the education side of stuff which is core philosophy for us. We’re more of an education institute than we are an elite training program. Camps, clinics for athletes, young athletes, grassroots level events will be coming soon. We want to positively influence everything we can in the sport. Dave: It seems like Garry and I are trying to figure out what’s going on around here and we’re really impressed, but then I hear a little bit about world wide efforts. You’ve got stuff going on in places we’re not even aware of, right? John: Yeah, we have coaches in Shanghai, we announced a partnership with Aberdeen University Track Club at Aberdeen, Scotland. Which is mostly an education partnership at this point, but should be growing into a full fledged center for us over there. We’ve got Canada as well with Laurier Primeau (renowned track & field coach) up there. The whole thing is just needed everywhere. For us to be able to take the sport and reclaim it for the athletes and coaches; to have everybody be able to participate and do it under our own terms and not need the permission of the higher up powers-it’s kind of rejuvenation for everyone, I think. Garry: Well, that’s exciting stuff, but to me it looks like an uphill battle. Like here in the states we just watched the NBA Championship Game, people picking their teams, watching the games together, it’s a huge social event. But Track & Field, there could be a big meet going on with a slew of world class athletes and if Dave or one of my track buddies doesn’t call me, I won’t even know it’s on TV. There’s no buzz. Unless you’re in an Olympic year and even then it’s after the fact. So, do you think Track and Field could ever be as popular here as it is in some European countries? John: I think so for sure! I think people’s general perception of the health of our sport is actually skewed far more to the negative than reality. Our sport is as healthy at all levels as it has ever been except for the professional and televised level. That’s not because people don’t want to see it, they watch it when it’s on, it’s because the people that are supposed to be organizing it and getting it out there and growing the sport from the top down aren’t doing their jobs. The sport still has the most participants at the high school level in the US of all the sports. Dave: That’s amazing! John: Second biggest sport globally. The sport is as healthy as it’s ever been. Problem isn’t the sport, it’s just how is the sport’s getting out there? How’s the message getting out there? What people see on the TV with the NFL or major league baseball make them think those sports are stronger in general. In general, as sports for the masses and participation of the sports that people love to do, we’re (track & field) probably as healthy as any sport. Dave: That’s a good thought. Garry: It’s a great thought. Are you kidding me? It didn’t look like that to me, but then what do I know? John: Go to any high school track meet on the weekend, you’ll see. There’s thousands of people participating. It’s a great thing and does a lot of great stuff for people. I’m a believer that over time that if you do it the right way then the top (marketing & media coverage) will improve as well. Garry: Have you always been clear about all this or did your vision kind of grow as time went on? When you retired from shot putt competition, did you actually see a great deal of this? John: Yeah, I did. It’s the nature of it when you never had a real job and you’re 36 years old and you have no resume, you might as well try to figure out something cool to do. Dave: Can we quote you on that? John: Al right, go for it. I’m 44 years old and I’ve never had a job interview. I’m doing alright. Garry: That’s the most impressive thing I’ve heard all week. Dave: And honest. Garry: Dang, wish I could say that. Any of it.
Stay tuned for more with John, Steve, Constance and my road trip to Chula Vista.
Cheria Morgan 100 meters runner Canada/Bermuda; Audrey Jean-Baptiste 4oo meters runner Canada; Mallory Gilbert pole vault, California