Hall of Fame 2017 inductees

Hall of Fame 2017 inductees

Godfrey Brown
Maurice Herriott
Carl Johnson
Derek Johnson
Arthur Rowe
Wendy Sly
Stuart Storey
Athens Men’s 4x100m Relay Team

Athens Men’s 4x100m Relay Team

The year is 1912. The Titanic, on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, strikes an iceberg and sinks … Herbert Asquith is Prime Minister … The Great War is two years away … the world record for 1500m stands at 3:55.8 and no man has ever jumped higher than two metres. That was the year when Britain won the inaugural Olympic 4x100m relay title. Ninety-two years would pass before Britain would recapture that title.

During that period British teams finished second on three occasions and third twice but traditionally this event was an American preserve with no fewer than 15 Olympic victories. And at the Athens Olympics of 2004 almost everyone assumed that would become 16 wins considering that in their heat the USA ran five metres clear of Britain and, for the final the USA team included the new Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin, the new Olympic 200m champion Shawn Crawford, Coby Miller and Maurice ‘Cannonball’ Greene, who was the world record holder at the time. It was a team fully capable of breaking the world record of 37.40.  Well, life is full of surprises. While the American “dream team” suffered a calamitous exchange between Gatlin and Miller, the British runners – none of whom had made the 100m final – were making splendid progress. The Bath Bullet, to peanut head, to pretty boy MD succeeded in handing the stick to one of Birmingham’s finest… two metres ahead of the USA and Nigeria. Even a storming anchor by Maurice Greene proved insufficient … just. The wide eyed Super Brummie held on for a stunning victory by 0.01s.

2nd leg runner added “We really believed as a team we could do it. When it comes to flat speed the Americans are totally amazing, so the only way we can take them out is with our baton skills.” Those skills were honed during a multitude of training sessions which also featured the other squad members, Christian Malcolm, Chris Lambert, Nick Smith and Dwayne Grant, all of whom played an important role even though they didn’t get to race in the Athens relay.

The unsung hero behind this momentous triumph was relay team coach Steve Perks, himself once a decent sprinter and who was head coach to the Welsh Commonwealth Games team in 1994. He was in charge of the senior British relay squad for six years and his massive contribution to the Olympic victory was recognised by being inducted later in 2004 into the Coaching Hall of Fame. That wasn’t his only success because, during his time as sprint relay coach, his teams also won gold medals at the European Championships and silver medals at the World Championships. A truly super team.

Relay Coach Steve Perks presented Jason Gardener, Darren Campbell, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis Francis with their induction award.