“I get deep into it. I stay up all night looking at it.”
Now, Bertram Lovell watches the Olympics in excitement. Nearly 50 years ago, he participated in distance running, as part of the 1972 Munich games.
“I’ll always remember the Opening Ceremonies, ” says Lovell. “That was such a trip. To see those thousands of people in the stands. Over 80,000 people. It takes you from all of the different things that’s out there, that you just feel accepted everywhere, by everyone else.”
The sport of track and field, in the games, has certainly changed over the years.
“At that time, they would take the two from each heat, in which they still do. But, you didn’t have the kind of speed that you have now.”
Coach Lovell’s initial fuel for speed was having family, and most importantly, motherly support.
“[My mom], saw me run one time in her lifetime, ” says Lovell. “She saw me win the [200-meter], being the MVP of the meet. My grandfather never got a chance to see me run. We were getting ready to go to the first meet out of the country. And, he was just soaking wet. And, I said, ‘What happened?’. He said ‘My heart. But, this is not the first time.’ And, I went down to the gym, before the meeting started. And, one of the guys who ran with me, just around the block. He had just walked into the gym, and came and said, ‘Your grandfather just died.'”
Nearly 40 years as the Tigers’ track and field Head Coach, and over three-dozen (36 to be exact) SWAC Championships later, 72-year old Bertram Lovell is perhaps training, Olympians of the future.
“I do not expect less of my student-athletes, ” says Lovell. “I will always tell them, ‘Michael Jackson talks about the man in the mirror. You are the man in the mirror. If you fail somewhere along time line, I fail.’ Eligibility is up, I make sure that I have money there for them to finish school. That means more to me that any race you competed and won.”