Greats of the sport honoured in 2018 Hall of Fame inductions

Greats of athletics, Tommy Green, Geoff Capes, John Regis, Aston Moore, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Peter Matthews, and Katharine Merry were inducted into the Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Ricoh Arena this evening. As well as the new inductees to the England Athletics Hall of Fame, the night saw volunteers from across the country honoured in the National Volunteer Awards to celebrate their dedication and service to the sport.

After 11 years of acting as host for the evening the tables were turned on Katharine Merry as Danny Crates took the microphone at the end of the evening and invited Ashia Hansen to induct the former sprinter who has continued involvement in the sport in a range of roles including as a commentator.

Katharine paid tribute to the coaches that had guided her throughout all the different stages of her career from the time she first become involved as a child. She spoke of the experience of competing in the historic Sydney Olympic 400m final against Cathy Freeman before adding, “The lactate from 50m to go is still in my backside in 2018.”

Katharine spoke of what it meant to be inducted and how she has enjoyed being part of the Hall of Fame and Volunteer Awards each year to see the greats of the sport and volunteers recognised together. “Athletics, I speak for many people in this room, is my life. I love my sport. I love everything about it. It’s a pleasure to be involved in it.

“Everyone in this room does make a difference. Thank you for everyone who has played a part.”

With John Regis and Jessica Ennis-Hill unable to attend video footage of their inductions was played.

Geoff Capes was inducted by the coach who spotted his potential when he was just a schoolboy, Stuart Storey. Geoff said, “I have been happy to compete at the very highest level, to have been number in the world and to have made many friends.

He paid tribute to the work of the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund and the young athletes coming through, “We have some great athletes and it is super to watch and see them win medals.”

In inducting him, Stuart Storey paid tribute to shot putting legend, “He’s been a great man in every respect. He was, and remains, a celebrity in this country. Geoff was superb in his career.”

World class triple jumper turned coach Aston Moor was inducted by Nathan Douglas and former World Indoor record holder Ashia Hansen. Nathan paid tribute to the genuine character of his coach and the way he had supported him through the twists and turn of his career with Ashia recalling some the experiences they had shared. Aston said, “A lot of people think that coaches go around wanting to be as famous as the athletes. Most of the time coaches are just relieved when the athlete does well, to finally see it come together is very, very satisfying.”

Statistician, author and commentator Peter Matthews described how he had an early fascination with the sport and statistics which had grown. “It got totally out of control,” he joked.

“It’s amazing and humbling to be honoured as I’m a fan. It is a privilege to be involved in athletics. I still retain a passion for watching it at all levels.”

Tommy, who won the 1932 Olympic race walk by a huge seven minutes, was represented by his grandchildren Cheryl Hookway and David Coakes. They brought with them the medal that their grandfather had won 86 years ago.

As well as our Hall of Fame inductions we also recognised our National Volunteer Award winners. You can click here to read more about the Volunteer award winners.

See below for a little about each of our inductees; click here to read their full information.

The event was sponsored by Track and Field Tours. The Regional Volunteer Awards programme has been supported by Spirit of 2012.

 

Tommy Green Tommy Green

A 50 kilometres road event was introduced at the 1932 Games. Fittingly, the winner in Los Angeles was a Briton: 38 year-old father of four, Tommy Green, who had to give up several weeks’ wages as a railwayman in Eastleigh to make the long trip to California by ship and train.

It was remarkable that Green ever became an athlete, never mind an Olympic champion, for he was unable to walk until he was five years old because of rickets, at 16 he was invalided out of the Army with injuries sustained when a horse fell on him, and during the First World War he was wounded three times and was badly gassed. A doctor advised him to take up athletics as a protection against the wartime gas that remained in his lungs. He started as a runner but drifted into walking after assisting a war-blinded friend who was training for the St Dunstan’s London to Brighton event. He won his first walking race, from Worthing to Brighton, in 1926, aged 32, and later victories included the London to Brighton classic in 1929, 1930, 1931 and 1933 and the Milan 100 kilometres race in 1930. He was unable to defend his Olympic title after finishing fourth in Britain’s 1936 50 kilometres trial but continued to compete until he was 54.

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Tom Bosworth presented Tommy‘s grandchildren Cheryl Hookway and David Coakes with the induction award.

Geoff Capes

Geoff Capes

In May 1966 Athletics Weekly featured two promising 16 year-old throwers. One was Hungarian-born Joe Bugner who would turn professional boxer. The other was Geoff Capes, already almost 6ft 6in tall and weighing over 16 stones. Believe it or not, he was the smallest of five brothers and in his early days as an athlete ran a 4:48 mile and raced cross country!

The turning point in Capes’ life was when he came under the coaching influence of international high hurdler Stuart Storey who had recognised his shot putting potential. Capes began setting age records from 16 onwards and in 1969, at 19, made his debut for the national senior team. It was in 1974 that he became one of the world’s elite. At the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch he ensured the gold medal. In June, he raised the Commonwealth record to the landmark figure of 21.00. Another milestone followed in August with a put over 70 feet (21.37).

In 1976 and regained the European title and boosted his Commonwealth record to 21.55 but disappointment awaited him at the Montreal Olympics. He had the third longest throw in the qualifying competition but in the final he could muster only 20.36 for sixth. He collected more medals, including a second gold at the 1978 Commonwealth Games. In May 1980 he came up with his longest ever throw: a Commonwealth record of 21.68 which survived as the British record for 23 years. He went into the Moscow Olympics ranked second but a back injury ruined his chances and he placed fifth. His athletics career may have ended in frustration but Capes went on to become even better known to the general public by twice winning the televised World’s Strongest Man title as well as being one of the country’s foremost budgerigar breeders.

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Stuart Storey presented Geoff with his induction award.

John Regis

 


John Regis

The son of the champion bodybuilder of St Lucia, the powerful physique of John Regis made him the most recognisable of sprinters. He was also one of the most versatile. The only man to win four medals in a single European Championships, he won a world indoor 200m title and so very nearly an outdoor one, was a World Championships gold medallist at 4x400m relay, set European bests at 300m (31.67) and low altitude 200m, and even ran a fast 200m hurdles (22.79).

As a junior in 1984 Regis ran a promising 21.31 200m and made a momentous decision – to put foot ball behind him. He dead-heated with Linford Christie for the UK 200m title and at the European Junior Championships he won gold (4x100m) and bronze (100m) medals. In 1986, still a teenager, he became the fastest European at 200m. After joining John Isaacs’ training group he set a UK indoor record with 20.54 for the bronze medal at the 1987 European Indoor Championships and ran his first 400m relay leg at Cosford … an impressive 45.6. Outdoors, at the World Championships, he not only broke Allan Wells’ UK record with 20.18 but came close to winning.

At the 1990 European Championships he amassed a record four medals. In 1991 his 44.22 third leg helped the 4x400m team score a famous victory over the USA at the World Championships in a European record time. He began working with Mike Whittingham and Mike McFarlane, rising to new heights in 1993. After setting personal bests at 100m and 400m he knew he was ready for sub-20 and at the World Championships in Stuttgart he finished a brilliant second in 19.94, which is still the UK record.

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John was unable to attend the ceremony but a video of his induction was played

Aston Moore

 


Aston  Moore

I think the triple jumper is probably the best allround athlete there is. He’s got to be flexible, fast and powerful.” That was the view of Aston Moore when quoted in Athletics Weekly in 1982. He should know, for not only was he a UK record breaker but he went on to become one of the world’s foremost coaches at the event. Blessed with natural talent, he exceeded 14 metres in his first year of triple jumping, aged 15 and without training. Within two years he was European junior champion, UK junior record holder and a senior international.

In 1978, he extended his British record to 16.68 when winning the second of his three AAA titles, then added a centimetre to that distance to take the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games. A second Commonwealth Games bronze medal came in 1982. He ended his international career at the 1986 edition in Edinburgh, placing fifth.

Back in 1976, aged 20, he stated that after retirement from competition “I expect I will put back some of what I got out of athletics by coaching.” He was as good as his word, as a coach he has achieved even more distinction than as an athlete.

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Nathan Douglas and Ashia Hansen presented Aston with his induction award.

Jessica Ennis-Hill

 


Jessica Ennis-Hill

Jessica Ennis-Hill is without question Britain’s most successful female multi-eventer. She was just 13 when she came under the coaching eye of Toni Minichiello. Theirs blossomed into one of the most fruitful athlete-coach partnerships in British athletics history.

In 2005 she won the European junior heptathlon title and the following year placed an inspired third at the Commonwealth Games. In 2007, despite being only 1.64m tall, she cleared 1.95 (a foot above her head!) to equal the British high jump record. In 2008 three stress fractures ended her dream of competing in the Beijing Olympics. Happily, she recovered in time for the 2009 season and ended up as world heptathlon champion, and improved her best score substantially to 6731, plus lifetime bests in the 800m, hurdles, shot, javelin and long jump. As one of the faces of the 2012 London Olympics there was enormous pressure on her, but she got away to a phenomenal start and continued to win the gold medal.

After giving birth in July 2014 she set out to regain the world title in August 2015. She made it this time to Beijing and triumphed again. The 2016 Olympics saw her beaten but completed a fabulous career in second place.

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Jessica was unable to attend the ceremony with a video of her induction by Toni Minichiello plays

Peter Matthews

 


Peter Matthews

Peter Matthews’ contribution to athletics spans many decades and roles: a statistician, historian, editor, announcer, radio and television commentator, and club president. He is best known for the multitude of statistical books he has compiled or edited. Without him the sport would be without two essential statistical reference books; the NUTS Annual contains detailed facts and figures relating to the previous year’s British athletics scene, and the International Athletics Annual, produced by the worldwide Association of Track & Field Statisticians (ATFS).Together with Mel Watman, he co-edits and publishes Athletics International, which prints every worldwide result of significance.

As Britain’s, and probably the world’s, foremost athletics statistician and analyst, he has written, compiled or edited many other books.He has worked as an announcer, commentator or media manager at numerous Commonwealth and Olympic Games and at every outdoor World Championships.

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Tony Miller presented Peter with his induction award.

Katharine Merry

 


Katharine Merry

In all too many cases, athletes who shine at a very young age do not go on to make their mark as seniors. But that was certainly not the case with Katharine Merry, who produced an astounding series of precocious performances and yet developed into one of Britain’s finest sprinters and, aged 26, an Olympic 400m medallist. She set age records galore. At 13 in 1988 she made her junior international debut even though she had five more seasons ahead of her as a junior! She began 1989 sensationally with an indoor 60m time of 7.35 which ranked second fastest among Britain’s seniors and was a world age 14 best which stood for 29 years.

Her achievements in 1993 included winning the UK 200m title and taking gold (200m and 4x100m) and silver (100m) medals at the European Junior Championships. The following year she made her debut at 400m with a time of 54.0. She didn’t race again at 400m until 1998, proving a revelation with a time of 51.02, while at the European Championships she ran a storming third leg in the relay in 50.4 to help Britain win bronze. She had at last found her strongest event. She reached true world class in 1999, after lowering the British indoor 200m record, which still stands, to 22.83, by clocking 50.21 in her semi-final at the World Championships to rank second to Kathy Cook on the UK all-time list.

Coached by Linford Christie, Katharine reached new heights during what proved to be the final two years of her career in the top flight. At the Sydney Olympics – on antibiotics due to a virus – she snatched the bronze medal with her best time yet of 49.72. Undefeated at 400m, she ran 49.59, fastest in the world in 2001 but a bone spur pressing on her Achilles tendon forced her to withdraw form the Worlds. Further injuries and illness took their toll and she retired, frustrated, in 2005. However, the mother of two has maintained a high profile in the sport ever since as a radio and TV commentator, infield presenter and, of course, as the Hall of Fame host.

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Ashia Hansen presented Katharine with her induction award.