The man said to be one of the inspirations for Seb Coe to take up athletics speaks of his disappointment at being rejected.
Running legend Ron Hill has expressed his disappointment at being rejected as a torchbearer for the London Olympics despite the fact that he was one of the inspirations for Seb Coe, the chair of the organising committee, to take up running.
The 1969 European and 1970 Commonwealth marathon champion was missing from the list of 7300 announced this week to receive the honour of carrying the torch on its 70-day journey around the British Isles this summer – as revealed in this week’s Athletics Weekly. Those nominating him had already been told he had been rejected because of the high volume of applications.
Although Hill did not win an Olympic medal, he was told by Coe a few years ago that he was one of the men who inspired him to take up athletics.
The Lancashire-born man, now 73, is still equal 10th all-time on the UK marathon rankings with his 1970 time of 2:09:28, which was considered a world best by the Association of Road Race Statisticians – the only quicker time being the disputed 2:08:33 by Derek Clayton. However, he is perhaps better known for his record-breaking streak of having run at least a mile every day since December 1964.
After his career at the top, Hill, who received an MBE in 1972, has continued to be a popular figure within the sport, founding the sports brand Hilly Clothing and regularly appearing at races nationwide as either official starter or competitor.
Hill’s rejection, therefore, is controversial, given that most of the torchbearers are known only locally rather than internationally – albeit for noted community work and achievements.
“I was disappointed,” he told Athletics Weekly this week. “In my area it seemed to be about charities. These people ought to be recognised, and are, for the work they do. But this is about sport and Olympians, for heaven’s sake. I cannot see any other country in the world celebrating having the Olympics on home soil in this way. My sentiments are the same for the treatment of Olympians in the tickets saga.”
Organisers are still to reveal another 700 torchbearers and among these will be some high-profile individuals who have not yet been offered the honour, but it is unlikely Hill will be among those, given he has already received a rejection.
This story is an adaptation of one which appeared in Athletics Weekly (March 22), which also lists several well-known figures from the sport who were confirmed this week to carry the torch.