IPSWICH athletics coach Ted Ruben says a lot about his widespread passion for the sport when he rates Lynten Johnson and Peter Norman his two role models.
Johnson was one of Ipswich’s most outstanding athletes, setting a spate of GPS, regional and national records at school and club level.
Norman won a silver medal at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, standing on the medal dais between Tommie Smith and John Carlos after their 200m final.
African-American athletes Smith and Carlos delivered the controversial black-gloved power salute, making a statement about human rights in one of sport’s most symbolic moments.
While former Ipswich Grammar School student Johnson and Norman competed years apart, Ruben appreciated the speed both athletes possessed.
“Lynten Johnson ran like the wind,” Ruben said of the exceptional Aboriginal sprinter and jumper.
“His (Norman’s) 200m run from 1968 still stands today as an Australian record.”
Collingwood Park-based Ruben also admired former club mentor Geoff Jones, one of the city’s most respected coaches.
Ruben carries that mix of local support and international appreciation into his coaching at the Ipswich and District Athletics Club.
“I love the club environment,” said Ruben, who grew up in Riverview.
“Geoff Jones, who passed away recently, was one of the many coaches that you looked up to.
“I had another coach and his name was Robbie Bolton when I was there.”
Ruben, 47, was a schoolboy triple jump silver medallist and member of the Ipswich club before turning his hand to coaching.
Now a level 3 jumps coach, he gained his early skills at Goodna Little Athletics before basing himself at Bill Paterson Oval.
He has been with the Ipswich club for five years, after being invited to join by stalwart Vic Pascoe.
“He more or less said we could do with a jumps coach at the club and that’s one of the reasons why I ended up coming to the club,” the former Silkstone and Bremer State High student said.
Ruben’s main focus is long and triple jump, where he works with a squad of nine.
“Triple jump is a very technical event and it doesn’t suit everybody,” he said. “But it’s a different kind of event and it’s what we call a horizontal jump, just like long jump.”
Two of his most promising jumpers are Met West representative Blaise Lanzi and 2012 national age group champion Elizabeth Raelie.
Ruben also enjoys touch football, having played for a number of years. He still follows a mixed team called “Which Way” in the Ipswich competition.
The team formed in 1999 has indigenous significance.
“In Torres Strait Islander terms, Which Way means hello,” Ruben said.
That’s a fitting team name given Ruben greets those he coaches with a welcoming smile and focus on improvement.
Apart from his regular training at Bill Paterson Oval, he’s also been helping coach youngsters at the Goodna and Colleges clubs.
Coaching long and triple jump, he encourages hill work, improving strength and developing explosive power.
“You’ve got to build all that base before you actually start to jump,” he said.
“Then you’re working to your technique. It’s a big jigsaw puzzle.”
Away from athletics, Ruben enjoys playing golf at Gailes.
Coach in focus
Key role: Ted Ruben is a level three jumps coach at the Ipswich and District Athletics Club.
Coaching philosophy: “What I find is they always get nervous because they’re concerned about other people beating them. I always say to them that it’s the tape measure that you have to beat. I’m a real big believer in personal bests. Winning is always a bonus but at the end of the day I would like to see my athletes improve and get better.”
Most satisfying part of coaching: “As a coach, you ride the rollercoaster with them. Everything they do well, you ride it with them. Even if they don’t do well, you’re still riding it with them and you know that you’ve got to work that little bit harder for next time.”
Toughest part of coaching: “When the kids more or less start telling you what to do. We always have a good laugh about things.”