Tuesday, July 12, 2022

The Barbers of Brisbane

by Mark Cullen

Mike and Kelsey-Lee Barber

The 7th in my series of memorable World Championships experiences wrote itself at the University of Washington track this morning, where Australia, Greece, and Poland were holding practice.

After Kelsey-Lee Barber's epic last-round Worlds javelin win in Doha in 2019, I struck up an online correspondence with her husband and coach, Mike, about my track and field collection. I promised him it would be on display in Eugene and that I'd give him a personal tour. Alas, it's not on display, and yet I wanted to keep my promise to Mike, at least in part. So on what was really a last-minute inspiration, I went to my bank on my way to the track and checked out the Bowerman waffle iron shoes.

I arrived to hear that 'the Australian team had left 15 minutes ago.' Gut punch! I was really disappointed to have missed them. Not that the Polish hammer throwers didn't give me a lot to observe (3 athletes respresenting 5 World/Olympic golds were here), or the Greek Olympic champion in the long jump... you get the idea.

I waited for my track and field friend and guru Paul Merca to return, but by 11:00 it was hot and I needed to get ready for Eugene. I was on my way out when two Australians (identifiable by their green and yellow outfits, which ought to get them far in Eugene!) walked across the track.

The Barbers.

I was astonished and delighted; 30 seconds either way and we would have missed each other. Turns out only part of the team had left. I am very appreciative of their keen interest in this part of track and field history, and a terrifically engaging conversation was had by all. Then off we went with good wishes both ways for a successful time in Eugene.

 (The first 6 experiences can be found on my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cullen.7946)


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