Athletics Weekly - - Contents - Ja­son Hen­der­son, ed­i­tor

AS a teenage run­ner in the 1980s, I was in­spired by Bri­tish mid­dle-dis­tance run­ners and fas­ci­nated by the cov­er­age they re­ceived in mag­a­zines like

AW and Marathon & Dis­tance Run­ner. Of the many ar­ti­cles I soaked up, one in par­tic­u­lar sticks in my mind – a fea­ture on Ikem Billy as a young run­ner at Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity, with a large photo of him re­lax­ing on the bed of his rather spar­tan stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion.

So roughly 35 years later it feels slightly sur­real to pub­lish a piece about a for­mer 800m prodigy who now has grey flecks in his hair and spends more time keep­ing fit cy­cling than run­ning.

Billy’s PB of 1:44.65 has cer­tainly stood the test of time, though. With good rea­son he won­ders why to­day’s ath­letes aren’t run­ning much quicker and in his in­ter­view (p32-34) he also ques­tions whether the sport needs “an Andy Nor­man­type fig­ure”, or some­one like Jack Buck­ner or Nigel Walker, to steer the sport in the right di­rec­tion.

IT IS a trav­esty that cross­coun­try run­ners do not at­tract Lot­tery fund­ing sim­ply be­cause their dis­ci­pline isn’t an Olympic sport. The sport lies at the har­rier heart of the na­tion. The lead­ing pro­tag­o­nists work just as hard as those in Olympic events. Num­ber­s­wise, it’s also one of the most pop­u­lar event ar­eas, fill­ing acres of col­umn inches and mul­ti­ple front cov­ers in AW ev­ery win­ter.

So thank good­ness for the Lon­don Marathon fund­ing

(News, p8), which fills a void in the Lot­tery sys­tem and which sup­ports, among oth­ers, the se­nior win­ners of last week­end’s Euro Cross tri­als.

Ross Milling­ton and Char­lotte Arter both re­turned from in­jury to take vic­tory in Liver­pool – and in Milling­ton’s case he made the cover of AW – and they’ll now lead a GB squad in Til­burg which will be tipped to top the medals ta­ble as usual.

Such strong, gritty per­for­mances are worth ev­ery penny of sup­port, surely.

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