Athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers celebrated at England Athletics awards evening
Darren Campbell, Ashia Hansen, Ron Hill and Sir Arthur Gold were among the nine athletics greats inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame on Saturday evening at an awards ceremony where coaches, officials, current athletes and volunteers were also honoured.
The awards evening, which is supported by Athletics Weekly, Sweatshop, Track and Field Tours and the Amateur Athletic Association, took place at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel for the seventh edition of this annual event.
Campbell, who has won a combined total of 12 sprint medals at Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth level, took to the stage to receive his award from former coach Linford Christie. “I just did my job,” said Campbell, following a career that saw him win 4x100m relay gold in Athens in 2004, four years after he won 200m silver in Sydney, and the European 100m title in 1998 in Budapest where he also formed part of GB’s gold medal-winning relay team.
Joining him in the Hall of Fame is fellow former athlete Hansen, who won two world indoor triple titles in Maebashi in 1999 and Birmingham in 2003 as well as Commonwealth titles at Kuala Lumpur 1998 and Manchester 2002. Added to that she won European indoor and outdoor titles in 1998 and 2002 respectively and leapt a world indoor record of 15.16m in 1998.
Running legend Hill, who won European marathon gold in Athens in 1969 and the Commonwealth title in Edinburgh in 1970 – the same year that he became the first British athlete to win the Boston Marathon which he did in a course record time – also forms part of the England Athletics ‘class of 2014’. Hill’s talents were not restricted to the roads, however, and he set a number of world record on the track too. Following his athletics career he went on to become a clothing entrepreneur and is famed for having run every day since 1964 with 157,000 miles now clocked. At the awards Hill confirmed how yes, he had of course done his day’s run, and on the subject of his mileage compère Katharine Merry remarked: “157,000 miles? There’s cars on the roads that haven’t even done 157,000 miles!”
Also inducted were Sportshall Athletics creator George Bunner and the late Guy Butler, a four-time Olympic medallist who won 4x400m gold and 400m silver at the 1920 Games in Antwerp and bronze medals in both events in Paris four years later. Butler broke the world 300 yd record with 30.6 in 1926 and later became a coach and athletics writer.
They are joined in the Hall of Fame by Muriel Cornell, the former world record-holder for the long jump and 80m hurdles who went on to become a prominent WAAA official, George Gandy, the highly-esteemed coach who has guided more than 80 senior international athletes, and eight-time Paralympic gold medallist Bob Matthews. Blind runner Matthews claimed 13 Paralympic medals at distances ranging from 800m to the marathon from 1984 to 2000, setting numerous world records along the way.
Bringing the total number of athletics greats now inducted into the Hall of Fame to 70, Gold’s son collected his father’s award from former AW editor Mel Watman. Athletics stalwart Gold, who died in 2002 aged 85, was recognised for his huge contribution to the sport, the international high jumper who went on to become an influential athletics administrator and a pioneering anti-drugs campaigner having been honorary secretary of the British Amateur Athletics Board and president of the European Athletics Association as well as chairman of the British Olympic Association and Commonwealth Games Council for England. He also led British athletics teams to three Olympic Games – Mexico in 1968, Munich in 1972 and Montreal in 1976.
Also celebrated were the sport’s coaches, officials and volunteers, with winners of the national awards including Carol Fossard and the late Bill Woods who jointly received the services to athletics honour. Mark Wall was named volunteer of the year, while Dave Holder received the official of the year award. The coach of the year honour went to Colin Baross as Run England group/leader of the year went to Sam Palmer.
Receiving their awards from AW‘s publisher Richard Hughes and the magazine’s editor Jason Henderson, Stevenage and North Herts AC was awarded the club partnership of the year honour, as Leicestershire Network/Women B Active was named the participation project of the year, these two awards having been sponsored by Athletics Weekly.
The national volunteer award contenders had been decided following a series of regional awards earlier this year.
With the sport’s greats having gained recognition in being inducted into the Hall of Fame, the stars of the future were also celebrated, with three athletes receiving bursaries from the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund.
Split into under-23, under-20 and under-17 age groups, the performance awards went to sprinters Adam Gemili and Dina Asher-Smith and high jump and hurdles specialist Rory Dwyer.
Footage from the evening including the presentation of awards and interviews can be viewed here.
» See the October 23 edition of Athletics Weekly magazine for more in-depth coverage and pictures of the Hall of Fame and National Volunteer Awards