Olympics just one more chance to run

By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico

Editor’s note: Freedom New Mexico is doing a series of stories on Olympians with ties to eastern New Mexico.

The 1968 Olympics in Mexico City was just another place to run for Rex Maddaford.

“It is an amazing experience and many get taken in by the whole idea of being at the Olympics,” the manager of the Tucumcari Golf Course said on Thursday. “In all honesty I knew what I was there to do and what I expected of myself.”

Maddaford competed in two Olympic events in 1968. He was 10th in the 5,000 meters (14:39.8) and 12th in the 10,000 meters (30:17.2) for his native New Zealand.

Here are some of Maddaford’s memories from his Olympic days and beyond:

Race day jitters: Maddaford said he was afraid of hitting an “oxygen wall” in Mexico City. “When you’re out of air, that is it; you don’t go any further.”

He said he did not run to his potential in the Olympics and it was all psychological. He said running at 7,400 feet above sea level can take some adjusting when you’re used to running at sea level.

“At the end of the races I found that I had a lot more run in me. I was just afraid to push it to the wall before then.”

Speaking down under: Maddaford, who is from New Zealand, was recruited by Eastern New Mexico University cross country coach Bill Silverberg while competing in Los Angeles as a member of the British Commonwealth.

“Bill was not even there to recruit me. We spoke over the next 10 months and I realized it was time to settle down and get an education.”

Maddaford said while at ENMU he helped the Greyhounds win national titles. “I did a lot of good things while at ENMU, like meeting my wife Jeannette.”