Chris Chataway – dying breed


With apologies to Wiggia, this was lost in the withdrawal of Gmail services [see post later today].   Better late than never to post it:

He was an athlete who epitomised all that young boys thought an athlete should be in those still austere post war years.

Chris Chataway, always remembered for being one of the team that helped Roger Bannister finally crack the elusive four minute barrier for the mile, was a lot more than that.

It was later that year, after being beaten by the seemingly invincible Vladimir Kuts in the European Championships 5000mts, they were matched again in a London against Moscow event over the same distance at the old White City stadium.

This was in an era when big sporting events were thin on the ground, boxing world champions were exactly that and British sporting achievements were few and much celebrated and cherished in a way difficult to come to terms with today.

As a small boy watching in B/W on the only channel available, seeing Chataway so slowly overhaul the machine like Kuts down that homestraight , barrel chested with a huge head of red blond hair, the relief and joy of that win and a world record to boot was Boy’s Own Paper stuff – a moment to savor.

Many years later, in the late 80s, I was working in St Johns Wood London near a Junior School.

In the morning, two famous fathers brought their young sons to that school, one was Peter O’Toole who even then looked as though the high life had taken its toll.

The other was Chris Chataway who appeared over thirty years after that triumph at the White City to be instantly recognisable as that sporting hero of my early youth.


As Wiggia says, he is the sort of person not to be forgotten. It’s common for older generations to venerate those from the past but IMHO, there is really something to that generation who, while they would consider themselves quite ordinary, grew up at a time and with an upbringing which has been largely lost today.

Dare I say it but what they possessed, especially in the working class of the day, was breeding. Call it fanciful but perhaps this was reflected in the quality of the products then produced in this land.


One response to “Chris Chataway – dying breed

  1. Some of us (ok, me) lose sight of these heroes from the past. RIP CC.