Graham Hood Interview

September 5, 2013 1

© Copyright – 2013 – Athletics Illustrated

Hood_Flash

Graham Hood of Burlington, Ontario is a former world-class middle-distance runner who specialised primarily in the 1500 metre event. He starred on the legendary NCAA first division, Arkansas Razorback team under the tutelage of the great, John McDonnell. Hood helped the Razorbacks win multiple NCAA titles in cross-country, indoor and outdoor track while on their way to winning a record 41 national championships.

Hood competed in two Olympics, the 1992 Barelona and 1996 Athens summer games, finishing ninth in Barcelona. During the 1997 IAAF World Track and Field Championships he finished seventh in the final. He also owns a gold medal from the 1999 Winnipeg, Pan American Games.

Hood is now retired however, continues to keep fit racing triathlons and half-ironman distance events with his wife Malindi Elmore, who also specialises in the 1500m distance.

Personal bests

800 Metres  –   1:45.70

1000 Metres – 2:16.88

1500 Metres – 3:33.94

One Mile –       3:51.55

Marathon –      2:34:52

Christopher Kelsall: Is Burlington a supportive community for athletics?

Graham Hood: Absolutely, it’s a great city to be from.  Lots of good programmes for all sports and a great track club which I remained a part of well into my senior competition days.  Most of my family has moved out west though, so not much reason to get back there anymore.

CK: Did you play another other sports growing up there?

GH: I come from a sporting family (my dad was the executive director of high school sports in Ontario) and it’s fair to say I did play a lot of other sports (soccer, basketball, cross-country skiing…) I kept the bench warm in most of them, except soccer. I was pretty good at that, but gave it up at the age of 16 to pursue track full time. My sister was and still is an excellent player having won both OFSAA and CIS championships over the years.

CK: So now retired from competing internationally, it appears you might be a bit of a triathlete, yes?

GH: Yeah, I’ve gone over to the dark side…actually it’s a great sport, full of great new challenges and gives me a competitive outlet while staying fit, plus I like tinkering with bikes and finding excuses to add new ones to the stable.

CK: What make and model is your favourite for road cycling?

GH: I have a few road bikes, but my favourite is definitely my 2008 Cervelo Soloist Team, it’s bomb-proof and has sentimental value as Malindi and I both bought them with some money we received when her Grandma passed away. No matter how many bikes come and go, this one will always have a special place in our garage.

CK: Special places in your garage, eh? Are you going to participate in the newly popular sport of cyclo-cross this season (psycho-cross)?

GH: I actually built up a cyclo-cross bike last year as a project and it’s currently my commuter bike. Maybe, I’ll jump in a race or two this year, but I’m also contemplating a late fall half-ironman, so we’ll have to wait and see if I want to risk life and limb.

CK: Being married to Malindi do the two of you get to spend much time training together?

GH: We do actually. We’re in a masters swim club together, although we swim in different lanes and we usually run together on the weekends. Occasionally I’ll let her tag along on the bike; she’s become really quite hard to drop.

CK: Have you ventured into the Gran Fondo events, like in Penticton and Whistler?

GH: There was one here in Kelowna last year which I did, but I haven’t been to the others.  Something about riding in groups with people I don’t know makes me nervous… you see some pretty shocking bike handling skills at Gran Fondos and triathlons.

CK: For example?

GH: You have obviously never watched a triathlon if you need examples! Aid stations are the worst at these things, people pulling over without regard for others. Thankfully I’ve improved my swimming recently so I don’t have so much passing to do on the bike.

CK: You competed in an ironman in 2011, have you done any others? Are there more in you?

GH: Ironman is a beast if you want to do it properly and that means investing a ridiculous amount of time into training. I don’t currently have any planned, but it does also have a mystique to it, so I may do another someday. I prefer the half-iron distance where the weekend training rides don’t need to be in the five-to-six hour range, week-after-week.

CK: Did you read the book, John McDonnell, the most successful coach in NCAA history?

GH: I must confess that the book is on my nightstand, but I’ve only read parts of it so far.  With my book reading habits, it should be done by about Christmas…. 2016.

CK: Reading about yourself doesn’t count. What did you think of your stature in the story amongst the pantheon of talent that went through the Razorback programme?

GH: I was just another blip on the radar of a bunch of really amazing talent that went through that school. I feel very fortunate to have been a part of it and to have had the chance to learn from coach Mac; he was just a truly amazing man.

CK: Why was he so amazing?

GH: John was successful mostly because of his ability to connect with the guys and through that connection to motivate them to do great things. Sure he knew his stuff when it came to workouts, but mostly he was just a great leader.

CK: Well you are portrayed as a serious athlete who trained quite hard, this, amongst other world-class athletes on a successful team. Did you enjoy plenty of volume or was it the intensity that gave you that reputation?

GH: A fair portrayal at that point in my life for sure… I like to think I’ve mellowed a bit with age. While at Arkansas I was more of an intensity guy, I was ready for pretty much every workout, but not so worried about the ‘filler volume’.

CK: Your best in the 800m being 1:45.70 and 1500m being 3:33.94, looking back did you explore the 800m to your fullest potential?

GH: Probably not, but years ago I stopped looking back on my career with any regrets. Unless you finish as an Olympic champion and world record holder you’re going to be wondering what if at the end of the day and that’s just not a healthy way to go through life. So I prefer to focus on the positives that I can take away from sport and those things really don’t factor down to performances or times.

CK: What race do you think is your very best performance?

GH: Athens world championships in 1997… seventh place, missed a medal by 0.29 seconds and the list of guys in front of me contained some ‘suspicious’ characters to say the least.

CK: What do you think of the increase of cheaters getting caught now?

GH: It is good to see cheaters getting caught. I look forward to the day when they can get them all.

CK: Do you follow the sport today? For example, were you up until 2:00 AM (Pacific) watching the Moscow Worlds?

GH: I only watched the Men’s 100, 800 and 10k this year and I checked a few of the other results, but honestly couldn’t tell you what happened in many events (including some of the distance ones). I do know that Canada came away with five medals though, so that’s great news!

CK: Any chance you will get into coaching others?

GH: I’ve done some of those personality trait tests recently and let’s just say I’m not exactly an outgoing individual or someone who would tolerate much in the way of ‘lack of commitment’ or ‘mediocrity in approach’, so while I’m not out there looking for anyone to coach, if the right person(s) came along with the right attitude and we were a good fit, I’d love to help them achieve their goals.

1997 Worlds Results, heats and finals:

Heat      Rank      Name    Result   Notes

3              1               Reyes Estévez (ESP)                                      3:36.20 Q

3              2               Azzeddine Seddiki (MAR)                            3:36.40 Q

3              3               Mohamed Suleiman (QAT)                         3:36.64 Q

3              4               Graham Hood (CAN)                                     3:36.69 Q

4              5               Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR)                          3:36.72 Q

3              6               Steve Holman (USA)                                      3:36.72 Q

3              7               Andersen Robert Kiplagat (DEN)              3:36.77 q

4              8               Fermin Cacho (ESP)                                        3:37.16 Q

1              9               Noureddine Morceli (ALG)                         3:37.26 Q

1              10            Andrey Zadorozhniy (RUS)                         3:37.28 Q

1              11            John Mayock (GBR)                                       3:37.37 Q

1              12            Kevin Sullivan (CAN)                                      3:37.42 Q

4              13            Ali Hakimi (TUN)                                              3:37.43 Q

4              14            Nadir Bosch (FRA)                                           3:37.45 Q

4              15            Gennaro Di Napoli (ITA)                               3:37.50 Q

1              16            Niall Bruton (IRL)                                             3:37.57 Q

1              17            Antonio Travassos (POR)                             3:37.70 q

1              18            Saïd Chébili (FRA)                                            3:37.75 q

3              19            Branko Zorko (CRO)                                       3:37.99 q

4              20            Ahmed Krama (ALG)                                     3:38.02

1              21            Julius Achon (UGA)                                        3:38.21

4              22            Matthew Yates (GBR)                                   3:38.34

3              23            Alexandru Vasile (ROM)                              3:39.01

4              24            Piotr Rostkowski (POL)                                                 3:39.52

2              25            Rudiger Stenzel (GER)                                   3:40.17 Q

4              25            Jason Pyrah (USA)                                          3:40.17

2              27            Kevin Mckay (GBR)                                        3:40.25 Q

4              28            Panagiotis Papoulias (GRE)                         3:40.30

2              29            Driss Maazouzi (MAR)                                   3:40.39 Q

2              30            Isaac Viciosa (ESP)                                          3:40.41 Q

2              31            Laban Rotich (KEN)                                         3:40.43 Q

2              32            Vyacheslav Shabunin (RUS)                        3:40.46

2              33            Abdelkader Chekhemani (FRA)                  3:41.02

2              34            Mohamed Ibrahim Aden (SOM)               3:41.23

2              35            Ali Saïdi-Sief (ALG)                                          3:41.48

2              36            Babiker Mohammed Yagoub (SUD)        3:41.54

1              37            John Kibowen (KEN)                                      3:41.69

2              38            José López (VEN)                                            3:42.83

1              39            Balazs Tolgyesi (HUN)                                   3:44.16

1              40            Alexis Sharangabo (RWA)                            3:44.95

3              41            Luis Feiteira (POR)                                          3:45.37

4              42            Shane Healy (IRL)                                            3:50.64

3              43            Scott Petersen (AUS)                                    3:50.65

3              44            Brent Butler (GUM)                                       3:58.29

Semifinals

 

Held on Monday 1997-08-04

 

Heat      Rank      Name    Result   Notes

2              1               Noureddine Morceli (ALG)                         3:38.82 Q

2              2               Reyes Estevez (ESP)                                      3:38.86 Q

2              3               Fermín Cacho (ESP)                                        3:38.86 Q

1              4               Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR)                          3:38.92 Q

2              5               Robert Kiplagat (DEN)                                   3:38.92 Q

2              6               Laban Rotich (KEN)                                         3:38.92 Q

2              7               Nadir Bosch (FRA)                                           3:39.01 q

2              8               Graham Hood (CAN)                           3:39.13 q

1              9               Mohamed Suleiman (QAT)                         3:39.15 Q

2              10            Gennaro di Napoli (ITA)                               3:39.45

1              11            Ali Hakimi (TUN)                                              3:39.50 Q

1              12            Rüdiger Stenzel (GER)                                   3:39.62 Q

1              13            John Mayock (GBR)                                       3:39.69 Q

1              14            Kevin Sullivan (CAN)                                      3:39.84

1              15            Steve Holman (USA)                                      3:39.97

2              16            Driss Maazouzi (MAR)                                   3:39.99

2              17            Azzeddine Seddiki (MAR)                            3:40.15

2              18            Kevin McKay (GBR)                                        3:40.21

1              19            Branko Zorko (CRO)                                       3:41.63

1              20            Said Chebili (FRA)                                            3:41.95

1              21            Antonio Travassos (POR)                             3:42.01

2              22            Andrey Zadorozhniy (RUS)                         3:42.61

1              23            Niall Bruton (IRL)                                             3:47.51

1              —            Isaac Viciosa (ESP)                                          DNF

Final

Rank      Name    Result

Gold       Hicham El Guerrouj (MAR)                                          3:35.83

Silver      Fermín Cacho (ESP)                                                        3:36.63

Bronze  Reyes Estevez (ESP)                                                      3:37.26

4.             Noureddine Morceli (ALG)                                         3:37.37

5.             Ali Hakimi (TUN)                                                              3:37.51

6.             Mohamed Suleiman (QAT)                                         3:37.53

7.             Graham Hood (CAN)                                          3:37.55

8.             Robert Kiplagat Andersen (DEN)                              3:37.66

9.             John Mayock (GBR)                                                       3:38.67

10.           Rüdiger Stenzel (GER)                                                   3:38.82

11.           Laban Rotich (KEN)                                                         3:41.27

12.           Nadir Bosch (FRA)                                                           3:48.35

 

 

 

One Comment »

  1. 1971 September 7, 2013 at 12:46 am -

    Good interview …

    I was lucky enough to run very far behind GH and the crew from these years (Kevin Sullivan, Jason Bunston, Joseph Kibur, Shawn McKay, etc.).

    Watching them run from the early years at York University Indoor track as 14/15 year olds it was fun … I gotta love the unintended poke at Kevin (a long time rival of GH) … i.e. he not qualifying in above results.

    GH and Jason Bunston never liked Kevin Sullivan as youths .. I watched them make fun of him while he raced. I aways wondered if that relationship changed.

    Anyhow I believe GH had much more in him … he always seemed to have an injury of some sort

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