Bert Rosenthal (AP)
3 November 2000 New York - Steve Moneghetti, the 1997 marathon bronze medallist at the 1997 World Championships, has had a huge influence on fellow Australian Kerryn McCann, one of the leading women in Sunday's New York City Marathon.
First, McCann got up in the middle of the night during the World Championships at Seville, Spain, to watch on television as Moneghetti finished third. By the end of the race, she was emotionally drained.
"Tears were running down my face,'' said McCann, eight months pregnant at the time. ``I wanted to get my running shoes back on. I couldn't wait.
"That was an inspiration. I felt like I wanted to run so badly, but I couldn't because I was so big.''
Her attitude was a turnabout from a year earlier, when McCann finished a disappointing 28th at the Atlanta Olympics and was prepared to give up running.
"I didn't want to run anymore - not after running 2:33 or 2:34 all the time,'' she said.
McCann had to wait longer than expected after the birth of her son Benton to resume running because she ruptured her pelvis during the delivery.
For eight weeks, she couldn't even jog, but six months after the delivery, she was running again. Her total of about 12 months away from competition was a refreshing break from all the training and travelling, and just the tonic McCann needed.
Suddenly, her times began dropping - about five minutes for the half-marathon, eight to nine minutes for the marathon.
By 1999, she had lowered her 10,000-meter best to 31:55.94, and this year, she set a personal best and national record for 5,000 meters of 15:08 at Brisbane two weeks before the Olympics; set a national record for the half-marathon of 1:07:48 at Tokyo; and set her marathon best of 2:25:59 at London.
At London in April, McCann led by 20 metres at the 29.0-kilometre mark before fading to fifth, but her time was a considerable improvement over her 2:28:44 seventh-place finish at the same race in 1999.
Having run London and the Olympic marathon in her home country, in which she finished 11th at 2:28:37, two places ahead of world marathon best holder Tegla Loroupe of Kenya, McCann wasn't planning on running a third marathon this year.
But she recovered so well from Sydney and felt in such great shape that she decided to run one more. There still are several notable marathons on the world calendar, and McCann chose New York after a conversation with Moneghetti, who retired after finishing 10th at the Olympics.
"He said one of his regrets was that he never ran the New York City Marathon,'' McCann said. "That convinced me.''
So here she is, having arrived in the United States at Los Angeles on Oct. 25 and at New York last Sunday to acclimate herself to the time change and all the other adjustments of going from one side of the world to the other.
While the New York experience will be different for McCann, it probably won't match the emotion of the Sydney marathon.
"Running into the Olympic stadium was a magic moment,'' she said. "It was everything I had expected. As I was coming through the tunnel, I could hear the rumble of the crowd.''
The New York race will be comparatively easy for McCann at least mentally.
At Sydney, there was an enormous amount of pressure because of the expectations on her in her home country. Although she was ranked only 13th among the Olympic entrants, one newspaper said she was capable of winning the bronze medal.
"I felt bad because I was in the best shape of my life. You always dream of doing better than you can,'' she said.
In New York, McCann is not expected to win - that status belongs to Loroupe - but she feels she will do well despite having run a marathon only six weeks ago.
"It was very hard leading up to Sydney,'' she said. "I was depressed because I wanted to be home with my family. I feel better here because I have my family.''