Paul Nihill: 1939-2020

We are sad to report that Olympic Race Walker Paul Nihill died recently.

Funeral information

Wednesday 20th January 1.15pm. Family only.  Live stream available.

Find out more at justgiving.com/fundraising/paulnihillmbe (live streaming, watch again, order of service)

Obituary

We publish an obituary written by Rev. Dr. Roy Lodge MBE.

I write this obituary immediately on my return from my local gym having spent an hour on the cross trainer that I dedicated to Paul’s memory as I thought of his  dedication, courage, stamina and discipline as one of our greatest Race Walkers. Along with Ken Matthews, Paul Nihill was someone I looked up to as a role model and gained enormous inspiration from his determination to reach the pinnacle of sporting excellence.

Despite his many athletic achievements as a Race Walker  he was unpretentious , warm and affable. He was Olympian, yet the twinkle of humour always lurked. He was also extremely courteous, with old fashioned charm. Beneath the impassive countenance  lurked strong passions which belied the public image. He above all combined impenetrable   discretion with a silky intelligence, extremely discreet  and extremely skilful in his discretion.

Such were his qualities that he commanded respect and admiration, friends and colleagues and opponents trusted him, believed in him  and had confidence  in him  as a man who was true to his word and would not let anyone down. In his life he honoured that trust and confidence placed in him and did not let  himself, his family or his colleagues down. We give thanks that  it was because he felt  highly regarded and valued for who he was  that he achieved so much. The Race Walking world owes him a great debt of gratitude, for what he gave of his life in time, energy and dedication.

Others will write of his outstanding achievements in the domestic and on the international stage. If there is one race that I recall with fond memories it was the Calne  Six Mile Open Race Walk on the 11th October 1969. It was the nearest I ever came to Paul in second place with Roger Mills third. Our times were  42.09; 43.12; and 43.16 respectively. My second prize vase will now have a poignant memory.

When I heard of Paul’s death I thought immediately of three lines of Edith Sitwell in her poem: “Eurydice”  “Love is not changed by death, and nothing is lost and all in the end is harvest.”

We give thanks that he has left us a legacy  of laughter and happy memories – warm hearted  with a tough core – human warm memories from a very human warm man.

In the annals of Race Walking history  he will be immortalised and ever remembered as a Race Walking legend.

Our deepest sympathy to his beloved children and extended family members, we share their grief and honour his memory.

Rev. Dr. Roy Lodge MBE

Photo by Mark Shearman