Bill Lucas (1917-2018)

Bill Lucas (1917-2018)

The Amateur Athletics Association is sad to hear of the death of former Vice President Bill Lucas who passed away at the great age of 101 after a lifetime of service to athletics.  

Born in January 1917, he showed early promise as a runner at school in Tooting Bec, London, soon becoming known for his long, silky stride.  As a runner, Bill Lucas rubbed shoulders with the great Emil Zatopek and was Britain’s No.1 contender at the 1948 London Olympics. As an RAF pilot, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross during World War II. Recently he has been Britain’s oldest living Olympian, but he died on Saturday aged 101.

Lucas was one of the nation’s finest distance runners during the 1940s but he arguably missed his greatest years on the track due to World War II, during which he became a squadron leader with the RAF.  His leadership skills would later be used in athletics administration as he became president of Surrey County AA, Southern Counties AAA, South of the Thames CCA, Insurance AAA, Belgrave Harriers and vice president of the AAA.

He was de-mobbed in 1946 and worked in insurance while raising a family. When the 1948 Olympics came around he had trained only lightly for a limited period and did not qualify for the final after being drawn in the same heat as Zatopek, the Czech runner who would win 10,000m gold at those Games plus 5000m, 10,000m and marathon golds in 1952. “The biggest regret of my career is my lost Olympic years of 1940 and 1944,” Lucas told Will Cockerell in an interview in Athletics Weekly in 2008. “Who knows what I might have achieved. Fantasy is a wonderful thing!”

Away from the Olympics, Lucas ran for Britain in various internationals, won numerous Surrey titles and won a huge number of medals in the London to Brighton Relay for his club, Belgrave Harriers.  Lucas retired from racing in 1954. But years later he made a brief comeback as a veteran and found himself racing Sydney Wooderson in a 100 x one mile relay.  Lucas also had a stint as an announcer at major meetings and commentated on Derek Ibbotson’s world mile record at the White City in 1957.

Click here to read full obituary in Athletics Weekly

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