If there is a man to be fully credited on the success of Philippine Sports, most especially in Athletics, it is Tony Benson of Australia. He was the National Coach of the Project “Gintong Alay”. The following is the excerpts taken from his website, www.benson.com.au. Readers are encouraged to visit his site and see its “Honour Roll” page where he presented Ani De Leon, our woman qualifier and participant in the 2008 Ford Kona IRONMAN and our past athletes in Athletiics as his athletes who were trained under him .
A 1972 Olympian and once the fifth ranked 5000m runner in the world, Tony was undefeated on tours of the USA and Europe between 1970 and 1972, is the last Australian distance runner to win at the prestigious Cologne, Stockholm and Oslo meets. In addition Tony is a sub “4” minute miler, a former Australian 2000m record holder and the 1969 Pacific Conference 1500m Gold Medalist. He has best times of 3:59.8 (mile), 7:50 (3000m) and 13:36 (5000m) as well as a road 10k time of 27:37 on a Ballarat course that, while uncertified, had seen only two other athletes, Wayne Bourke and Kevin Brady – both sub 14:05/5000m runners, break 30 minutes on the course in 40 years.
Tony began coaching in 1967 while teaching at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat. He moved to club coaching with Ballarat YCW on his retirement from international competition in 1973 and within two years had produced the first of what would be a long list of internationals. During this period a small skinny kid named Steve Moneghetti arrived at St. Patrick’s starting an association that would last through Steve’s foundation years. In 1979 Tony was offered, and accepted, the position of National Coach of the Philippines. At that time the Philippines ranked 29th in Asia. By the time Tony had left the Philippines they had reached 6th place, produced Asian champions and record holders as well as Olympians including a steeplechase semi finalist.
Tony first became involved in triathlon through Emma Carney while still the National T & F Coaching Director of Australia and assisted her with her running during 1993 and 1994 as she started to make her very successful transition from a national class runner to World Champion triathlete.
In June 1993 he left Athletics Australia and by the end of 1994 had a squad of 25 athletes. Since then the squad has grown to the point where there are usually between 70 and 80 athletes training at six to eight different locations around Melbourne as well as interstate and overseas.
Tony Benson has been the Head Coach of Olympic, Commonwealth, World Championship and Asian Games teams, lectured in Africa, Asia and the Pacific on behalf of the International Olympic Committee and International Association of Athletic Federation and put his theories into practice by producing Olympic athletes and World Championship level athletes, triathletes and duathletes.
In 1993, at the insistance of close friend Irv Ray, Tony and Irv produced a best selling coaching book called “Run With The Best”. The philosophies it contained were proven when Irv coached 17 year old Ryan Hall to a 3:42.7/1500m and No2 US high school miler of 2001 and Patrick Sang, a former standout Kenyan steelechaser, used the RWTB principles he adopted after meeting Tony in Nairobi at the 2002 IAAF All Africa Level 2 Coaches’ Course in his preparation of 18 year old 2003 World 5000m champion Elicud Kipchoge.
Finally he has also mixed with elite athletes and coaches from triathlon, cycling and swimming and acknowledges the influence of many of these highly respected and successful people in the construction of his training schedules and in the development of his computer programs. He is a Level 5 Track and Field coach and a Level 3 Triathlon Coach as well as National Track and Field Consultant (AFTCA).