Vale George Williams 1935-2017

George Williams

We have received information of the passing of former Belgrave Race Walker George Williams. Born 1935.

George was an International in the early 60’s and competed and placed 3rd in the Lugano Cup, equivalent to the World team championship and was in Belgrave teams over that period. He also was a Surrey walker placing second behind Eric Hall in a 3kms championship.

He wrote a book called Run Rabbit Run, below is a foreword from the book that gives a brief history about George Williams:

Run Rabbit Run Foreword by David Downer

“I first met George Williams at the Littledown Leisure Centre in Bournemouth (England) in 1996. I had just joined the staff as a fitness trainer. George and I ran the twice weekly 50+ Fitness Activities mornings (and a great success they were too). We worked together for 6 years, during which time we became good friends.

George’s story is one of hardship and challenge. I wish I could say “rags to riches” but in the days of amateur athletics, the riches that top athletes today take for granted did not exist. I once heard someone say to George; “Your problem George was that you were ahead of your time. If you were a modern athlete you’d have all the trappings to go with it.” I’m sure that’s true.

Many people believe George quit his international career too early. He was tipped by some of his peers as a medal contender for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics but he decided to quit the sport instead. Although George didn’t go to Tokyo, his great friend and protegé Paul Nihill did. Paul won Olympic Silver.

I met Paul Nihill a few years ago and he spoke highly of George, crediting some of his own success (he was also European champion) to George’s training techniques. George’s training techniques were years ahead of their time. It is such a shame that the powers that be didn’t snap him up as a National Team coach, at the end of his competitive race walking days. What an opportunity missed.”

Run Rabbit, Run… George begins his story in 1940 at the tender age of 5; Britain was at war with Germany (the dreadful bombings were about to begin). It ends shortly after his greatest triumph, winning the individual Bronze and a team gold medal at the 1961 race walking World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland (the sports World Championship). I asked George why he has not written about the last 40 years? Typical of George he replied; “Oh I just got bored, I’ll leave that for another book!”

No.9 George Williams Heads The Field

If you were fascinated by the story line of films such as Chariots of Fire & Billy Elliot, then I think you will be fascinated (and amused, even shocked at times) by Run Rabbit, Run… I was and I already knew many of the stories.

George’s story could make an interesting film. Starting in war-time Britain, with George huddled in an Anderson shelter in London (with his parents and siblings), with German bombs falling all around and then climaxing at the 1961 race walking World Championships, with George’s last gasp heroic bronze medal walk, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat (just a touch of artistic licence there) and delivering the team gold for Great Britain!

Today George is enjoying retirement, living a leisurely life on his canal boat near Burton-on-Trent, England. He is surrounded by the world of nature that so fascinated him as a young boy. George still enjoys a beer or three (and is often sat on his boat supping a pint when we speak on the phone). He hopefully keeps out of fights these days, although he still chases the girls of course. Thanks to good health (and a new hip), he still walks miles and at quite a pace! George Williams you are still one hell of a character! Keep enjoying life me old mate… You deserve it!
To Read Run Rabbit Run “Click Here”

 – David Downer

 

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