John Disley has died after a short illness aged 87

John Disley, British Orienteering's Vice President, who claimed Olympic 3000m steeplechase bronze at the 1952 Games in Helsinki and co-founded the London Marathon, has died aged 87.

The former Welsh athlete passed away in hospital early on Monday morning (February 8) after a short illness.

Born in North Wales in 1928, Disley went on to become a record-breaking athlete, claiming his Olympic bronze as well as setting five British records in the steeplechase and four at two miles. He was ranked No.2 in the world for the steeplechase in 1955 and No.3 in 1952.

Disley also set Welsh records at six different distances, broke the record for the traverse of the Welsh 3000ft peaks and in 1955 became the first chief instructor at the Central Council of Physical Recreation’s flagship mountaineering and outdoor pursuits centre, Plas y Brenin.

When receiving the Cliff Temple Award for services to athletics from the National Union of Track Statisticians in 2008, Disley, who was awarded a CBE in 1979, revealed that he had turned to the steeplechase because he wasn’t good enough on the flat, but that his first love was mountaineering.

Following an eye-opening visit with the London Marathon’s founding race director Chris Brasher to the 1979 New York Marathon, it was Disley who set about creating a route for the first ever London Marathon.

In the 1960s, after competing in the European Orienteering Championships in Sweden, Disley returned to introduce the sport to the UK, running a series of seminars in different parts of the country. He enthused fellow Olympians Brasher, Roger Bannister, Gordon Pirie and others about the activity, and subsequently Disley and Brasher set up the British Orienteering Federation.

Having successfully put on the World Orienteering Championships in 1976, the Disley and Brasher duo was a perfect combination of logistics and pure will to succeed. The result, when they turned their sights on staging a road race through the British capital, was over 7000 runners standing on the start line of the first London Marathon in 1981.

Item posted by Scott Parker.

Posted on Tuesday 9th February 2016