Being of the older generation, all too often these days we learn of the passing of old friends, associates and past opponents which nostalgically serve to revive old memories. The recent death of Chris Chataway takes me back to the sports stadium in Hanover, Germany, in 1949, when I competed in an Army athletic team against a combined Oxford and Cambridge University side.

Down to run in the 400 meters, due to another runner’s injury, I was asked to run also in the 800. Not being very happy, as the two are entirely different events, I reluctantly agreed and did reasonably well in the 400, coming I believe second or third of eight.

However when it came to run in the 800, I was immediately impressed by the look of two of their runners, and guessing that I would probably be outclassed in a race I never trained for, went to the blocks, thinking I could only do my best. The first 400 went reasonably well, and I was up with the leaders, but the final lap was a disaster, during which I saw the backs of two university men fading rapidly into the distance.

Finishing last, many yards behind, I was told later that the two, along with another were three of the most promising athletes of the day, which gave me some consolation. Some time later, after I left the army, the runners in question took part in the first ever recorded four minute mile. No wonder I came last, the two were non other than Roger Bannister and Chris Chataway. One never forgets things like that. Incidentally the other, Chris Brasher became an Olympic champion, worked for my own company Shell Mex& BP as PR and a founder of the London Marathon.

What the Dickens was I doing competing against men such as those? ** Rest in Peace, Sir Christopher, I’m never likely to forget you.

** OLD MOTHER BENSON COMMENTS ” Thats what Hunslet Lads Do”

“And with that level of the opponents! You did marvelous to finish last?”