I played all sports at school, including football and I also played cricket for the school team, but I discovered my love for running when I was about eleven years old. One of my earliest memories is of watching the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. I watched the likes of Mary Rand and Lynn Davies among others, but the one that stood out in particular was Ann Packer. She won the women’s 800 metres and came from miles behind to win the gold. I remember watching and thinking I’d love to do that. I think that was the moment I fell in love with the Olympics and fell in love with running.
Heroes and inspirational figures
As a youngster I used to support Coventry City Football Club and we went from the third division up to division one, the whole team were my heroes. I also watched rugby and watched many of the great Coventry players like David Duckham. I also had heroes at the athletics club I joined. A runner called Basil Heatley, who was Olympic silver medallist in 1964 in the marathon.
As I went through my career, people like Brendan Foster were inspirational to me, although he was a rival, he was older than me, so I was able to follow in his footsteps, and he also gave me great support. I used to love the New Zealanders, Peter Snell, Murray Halberg, John Walker, Rod Dixon and Dick Quax. There was kind of a mythical quality to them. Ultimately I went and lived in New Zealand and ran and trained with them. They were my heroes but they also became my rivals
I’d joined my local athletics club around the time of the Tokyo Olympics when I was eleven. It was probably when I was sixteen or seventeen that I began to realise I had a bit of talent. My coach John Anderson convinced me I had that talent. I was about eighteen when I first competed for the Great Britain junior team.
It all became just a natural progression. I was running during the amateur era, so it was never my career. I went to Loughborough to train to be a teacher and taught P.E. I was able to combine running with working throughout the whole of my career and loved every minute of it. Ultimately I became the chief executive at UK Athletics. Chris Chattaway, World Record holder for the 5,000 metres was involved in the organisation in the early days. He was another hero of mine as was Olympic 400m hurdles champion David Hemery who was also involved in UK Athletics. Olympic long jumper champion Lynn Davies was president much of the time I was chief executive. It was a real pleasure to work with such heroes.
I guess my all time highlight would have to be breaking the 5000 metres World Record in Oslo at the Bislett Games because I just didn’t expect it. It was a perfect night in Norway. I led for virtually all of the race and broke the record, running 13.00.41. Within minutes it had changed the rest of my life. The things I get to do now just wouldn’t have happened without having broken the World Record. It was also a time to reflect, were it not for the volunteers in my club in Coventry helping out and doing the right thing, I maybe wouldn’t have progressed the way I did.
I remember watching the 1,500 metres final in 1974 in what was probably one of the greatest 1,500 metres races of all time, when Filbert Bayi pipped John Walker and Ben Jipcho to the gold. Four years later I found myself lining up alongside Filbert Bayi in the final in Edmonton and beat him to win the gold medal. I think he’d had malaria a few weeks earlier! I actually shared a room with Brendan Foster at the Games, who won the 10,000 metres gold medal, so we had a double gold room!
Four years later I went on to win the 5,000 metres Commonwealth Games gold medal in Brisbane.
Watching this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow brought back some great memories for me, I love the Commonwealth Games.
David Moorcroft OBE
Join In Director of Sport
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Memory added on August 20, 2014
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