Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Jim Ryun; A Living Legend

During the past few months, I had a chance to meet David Epstein (author of Sports Gene) and some of the renowned coaches in track & field (Dr. Joe VigilVern GambettaPeter Thompson etc.) as well as some of today’s world-class middle-distance and long-distance athletes (including Nick SymmondsJenny Simpson, and Meb Keflezighi). It was a great opportunity to meet Mr. Epstein and the legendary Coaches Vigil, Gambetta and Thompson. Also, the inspiring athletes, Nick, Jenny and Meb as they prepare to compete in the 2015 World Track & Field Championships and 2016 Rio Olympics. I had a chance to listen, understand and appreciate each one’s own personal story, journey, various inspirations and aspirations. It was also really amazing to hear the name of “Jim Ryun” mentioned during some of the many conversations as a living legend who has inspired and still continues to do so for many generations of athletes worldwide.

Source: www.sporting-heroes.netathletics-
heroesdisplayhero.aspHeroID=10047
Last year happened to mark the 60th anniversary of the breaking of the “four-minute mile” barrier by Roger Bannister in England and also marked the 50th anniversary of the breaking of the “four-minute mile” barrier by the first high school athlete; Jim Ryun in Kansas. Today, there seems to be a rekindling and keener interest in competing in the “mile” as a popular track & field and road racing event; such as the very eventful New York Road Runners (NYRR) "5th Avenue Mile".

The world of “athletics” or track & field has seen and continues to this day with so many great men and women athletes in various events and competition which include but not limited to; Jim Thorpe, Paavo NurmiEric LiddellJesse OwensWilma RudolphFrank ShorterSebastian CoeCarl LewisMichael JohnsonAllyson FelixSanya Richards-RossShelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Usain Bolt, and Mo Farah, to just name a few. Especially, in the middle distance events, covering the half-mile and one-mile or metric equivalents of 800 Meters and 1500 Meters, there have also been many great men and women athletes worldwide. Among the many, one name comes continually to mind in particular; Jim Ryun.

After three attempts at the Olympics in 1964, 1968 and 1972, Ryun could not win an Olympic gold medal, but, he set and held multiple world records during the course of an athletic career that made him a world-class runner. The athletic greatness of Ryun and his outstanding contributions to the world of sports is important to recall as well as being a testimony to the human spirit as well as individual amateur athletic prowess and achievements.

Source: www.kshs.orgkansapediajim-
ryun12190
To start with, as mentioned above, as early as 1964 while a junior at Wichita East High School in Wichita Kansas, Ryun was the only athlete to run a four-minute mile at that time. He also became the first high school runner to break the four-minute barrier with a time of 3:59.0 for the mile which was an outstanding achievement in itself. While in high school, he qualified for the U.S. Olympic team and competed with the world’s best in the 1500 Meters in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games where he made it to the semifinals.

Ryun set the high school and U.S. open mile record of 3:55.3 as a senior in 1965, a record which has stood for nearly 36 years until 2001 when broken by Alan Webb who ran a 3:53.43. It should be noted that during the setting of this record, Ryun defeated Peter Snell who was the reigning 1500 Meters champion from the Tokyo Olympics and a former world record holder.

While still in his senior year in high school, Ryun was voted the fourth best miler in the world by the experts at Track & Field News. No wonder ESPN.com has Jim Ryun rated as the No. 1 high school athlete of all-time, beating out other great athletes such as Tiger Woods in golf and LeBron James in basketball.

At the age of just nineteen (19), Ryun set world records in the half-mile (time of 1:44.9, October 6, 1966 in Terre Haute Indiana) and the mile (time of 3:51.3, July 17, 1966 in Berkley California) and became Sport Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year”, winning the James E. Sullivan award as the U.S. top amateur athlete, ABC’s Wide World of Sports “Athlete of the Year” and was voted Track & Field News “Athlete of the Year” as the world best track & field athlete. On a college athletic scholarship to University of Kansas, from 1967, Ryun set multiple world records ablaze:

·         Half-mile (indoors); Time of 1:48.3
·         Mile; Time of 3:51.1, June 23, 1967 in Bakersfield California
·         1500 Meters; Time of 3:33.1, July 8, 1967 in Los Angeles, California
·         Mile (indoors), Time of 3:56.4, February 19, 1971, San Diego, California

As a University of Kansas “Jayhawk”, Ryun was the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) champion in:

·         1967 Mile
·         1967, 1968, and 1969 Mile (indoors)
·         1968 Two-Mile (indoors)

Source: www.tedwatts.orgkansas.php
Ryun was truly a real team player and helped University of Kansas Jayhawks win the NCAA team championship in 1969 as well as sprint and distance medleys on multiple occasions. During the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Ryun completely recovered from mononucleosis, trained at high altitudes, and won a silver medal in the 1500 meters losing to the famous Kip Keino of Kenya. In the 1972 Munich Olympics, he was fouled, tripped and fell down during a qualifying heat for the 1500 meters and did not proceed any further with subsequent Olympic competition thereafter.

It is important to note that by breaking the world record for the mile at the age 19, Ryun spontaneously inspired generations worldwide and his impact was so widespread. It has been said that Ryun is one of the greatest middle-distance athletes and miler of all-time and is certainly one of the most prolific athletes.

Over the years, much has been said and written about Ryun in the form of magazine articles, books, TV and radio broadcasts and the sorts. In the age of high-speed internet, 24/7 media, cable news, multiple doping scandals, multimillion dollar advertisements and sponsorships, and highly paid pro-athletes, it is sometimes very hard to grasp and believe the various individual amateur athlete and team accomplishments of Jim Ryun; A Living Legend.

References:

1.       http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Ryun
2.       http://www.distancerunning.com/inductees/2003/ryun.html
3.       Book “Jim Ryun: Master of The Mile”, by John Lake
4.       http://www.kansas.com/news/article1145253.html


Monday, January 12, 2015

Holistic Innovation; Possible Game-Changer?

The global macroeconomic and micro-economic business cycle, lasting over the past 8-10 decades, appears to be drawing towards closure. Especially during the past two decades, there has been a continual convergence between “brick & mortar” vs. “digital” economies. Meanwhile, global currencies, banking and capital markets have undergone major volatility, restructuring and rationalizing resulting from imbalances in sovereign Debt-Deficits-Demand due to monetization of various Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs), Credit Default Swaps (CDSs), and Over-The-Counter (OTC) Derivatives. There has also been a constant and dynamic shift between “deflation vs. inflation” and “deleveraging vs. default” leading to definitive impact on stocks, bonds, commodities, precious metals and other asset classes. Thus, as a resultant, the conventional value and supply chain may no longer be feasible nor viable.


During the current transition to the dawning of a “new age” of asset classes, various global stakeholders in Government-Corporate-Finance-Academia continue their attempts to define and draft effective policies and framework (i.e.) monetary policy; fiscal & regulatory policy; macroeconomic policy; structured finance and; micro-economic business strategy and plans.

Accordingly, “holistic innovation” may be a possible game-changer which may likely provide a course of corrective action as well as positive direction leading to unleashing cutting-edge, next-generation technologies, products and/or services. Main emphasis must be on; long-term capital appreciation; building enterprise value (EV) through tangible and substantive assets base; delivering high current income and; minimizing debt and expenses burden which directly impact deficit-based financing.


The key drivers in ensuring “holistic innovation” occurs on a productive and results-oriented basis rather than “boom & bust cycle”, may include but not limited to the following:

  • Effective and unbiased monetary policy, fiscal & regulatory policy, macroeconomic policy, structured finance and micro-economic business strategy and plans
  • Strategic Alliances & Partnerships between Private Sector-Public Sector-Academia
  • Promotion, incubation, support and launching of talented entrepreneurs
  • Practical, realistic, focused and targeted methods for “capital formation-capital allocation-capital deployment”
  • Ensuring investment safety, security and realistic returns while delivering Return of Capital (RoC) within a definitive exit strategy


In summary, “holistic innovation” may help enable solid rethinking and refocus which is required for “bottom-up” building of balance sheets, P&L’s and cashflow statements through an enhanced value and supply chain.