Ni­cholls re­warded for 60 years of ex­cel­lence

JC LEG­END WAL­TER NI­CHOLLS

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - BY BRIAN SACHS

THE SE­LEC­TION of Wal­ter Ni­cholls as chair­man of the Am­a­teur Ath­let­ics As­so­ci­a­tion caps a 60-year ca­reer in the ser­vice of his sport.

Manch­ester so­lic­i­tor Ni­cholls fol­lows in the distin­guished foot­steps of fel­low Jews Harold Abra­hams and Arthur Gold in lead­ing the world’s old­est na­tional ath­let­ics body.

Wal­ter and his wife Mar­lene are mem­bers of the Sha’arei Hayim con­gre­ga­tion of Dids­bury, South Manch­ester. The cou­ple have four chil­dren and nine grand­chil­dren and are look­ing for­ward to cel­e­brat­ing 55 years of mar­riage in June.

Now 81, Ni­cholls joined his first ath­let­ics club, Manch­ester AC, at age 15, and has be­longed to Traf­ford AC since its foun­da­tion in 1964. Dur­ing his se­nior ca­reer, he rep­re­sented Lan­cashire and Cheshire in the shot and his main event, the dis­cus. He con­tin­ued to com­pete un­til his mid-70’s, earn­ing medals in the North­ern and Na­tional Vet­eran Cham­pi­onships, and is hop­ing to re­sume train­ing this year.

Ni­cholls be­gan his ca­reer in ath­let­ics ad­min­is­tra­tion in 1958, of­fi­ci­at­ing and time­keep­ing at ath­let­ics meetings. Ni­cholls lived in Is­rael for three years in the late 1960’s, dur­ing which time he coached ath­let­ics at the He­brew Univer­sity in Jerusalem and at the Hapoel Club in Haifa. He of­fi­ci­ated in the 1969 Mac­cabiah Games, and 20 years later was in­vited back as Chief Time­keeper for the 1989 Games. In the pre­vi­ous Mac­cabiah in 1985, Ni­cholls had served as GB Ath­let­ics Team Man­ager.

He has served roles in north­ern Eng­land and Great Bri­tain team se­lec­tion and man­age­ment through­out the last 40 years. Ni­cholls has of­fi­ci­ated at in­ter­na­tional matches and the Com­mon­wealth Games and still of­fi­ci­ates at ath­let­ics meetings in the north of Eng­land.

He was a direc­tor of the Bri­tish As­so­ci­a­tion for Sport and Law and sec­re­tary of the Bri­tish Ath­let­ics Dop­ing Com­mit­tee for sev­eral years. He still chairs dis­ci­plinary pan­els for UK Ath­let­ics. Spe­cial­is­ing in sports law in his pro­fes­sional life, Ni­cholls has acted in a num­ber of high-pro­file dop­ing cases. To­gether with Mel Wat­man, Ni­cholls is a mem­ber of the se­lec­tion panel for the Bri­tish Ath­let­ics Hall of Fame.

Ni­cholls takes over the chair­man­ship role after sev­eral years serv­ing as Sec­re­tary of the AAA. “Although UK Ath­let­ics has taken over from the AAA as the sport’s gov­ern­ing body, we re­main very ac­tive,” Ni­cholls com­mented. “We sup­port events for young ath­letes across the coun­try, such as the Marathon re­lay in which two 200 teams of 11-to-13-year-olds com­peted last year. We see our­selves as the con­science of the sport and the cus­to­di­ans of its history, and I hope I can fur­ther that through the set­ting up a na­tional mu­seum of ath­let­ics.”

Brian Sacks is the Jewish Chron­i­cle’s ath­let­ics correspondent

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