More tributes

THE athletics world is in mourning following news of the death of legendary coach Frank Horwill.

Horwill died peacefully at St Joseph's Hospice, East London at 16.49 on New Year’s Day and was surrounded by friends.

The 84-year-old, who helped set up the British Milers’ Club, had fought a long and courageous battle against heart and cancer problems before he was taken into the hospice before Christmas and while there he received many visitors and calls, including one from Sebastian Coe.

Since news of death numerous messages of condolences have been sent to the BMC with heartfelt tributes from some of Britain’s greatest ever athletes, including the likes of Steve Ovett, David Moorcroft and John Gladwin.

Current BMC chairman Tim Brennan spoke for many when he reflected on the contribution of Horwill to the sport in general and in specific the success of the organisation.

“Frank has been an inspiration to me and to so many others lucky enough to spend time with him,” said Brennan.
“It is hard to believe that such a life force is no longer with us. Frank’s original vision, intellect and leadership sparked a revival of British middle distance running and without him there would be no British Milers Club.”


Brendan Hackett was just starting out as an athletics coach when he first met Frank and that meeting ultimately led him to establish the Irish Milers’ Club.
“As a young athletics coach hungry for knowledge his articles made complete sense to me,” said Hackett. “He presented a method that followed sound principles and could be adjusted to suit all types of athletes. He was a practical coach who got results.

“He was logical, yet innovative and he wanted to share his ideas. He loved athletics and you could see he was a bit special from his writing. He was what we affectionately say in Ireland “a character”.
“The Irish Milers Club was formed in 2000 and Frank got as much kick out of its development as we did. I would invite Frank to Dublin to stay with me for a few days and he loved those visits.”


Athlete John Gladwin was one of the top British middle distance runners in the 1980s and has many special memories of Frank.
“I know we have so much history with him and most of mine are full of laughs,” said Gladwin. “ I had a lot of nights out with him in the early days via Tim Hutchings and every night had a story attached to it, almost certainly involving Frank.

“He's been such a great servant to the sport and his coaching legacy will live on forever.”


A former athlete, Vanessa Aquilina, was thankful that she had the chance to work with Frank.
“I first met Frank at the tender age of 15 in 1967 at Alperton cinder track. Even then he had his whistle and stop watch. Frank had such a charisma about him and I was fortunate to be able to share in some adventures with him and his athletes which couldn't help to make me see life a little differently in the future.
“He was so generous with his time and the little money he had then. I remember one cold Sunday morning driving with him to the track in his old grey Bedford van and we saw a 'tramp' wandering along the road.
“Frank got out and gave him the last bit of money he had on him and when the tramp tried to refuse Frank told him he had won some money and would like to share it with him. I can't begin to imagine the number of athletes he has helped financially as well as athletically.

“His training methods were very different and he often had to deal with derogatory comments from more conformist coaches and athletes. However it wasn't long before his results were making people take notice and it has been very satisfying over the years to see him receive the recognition he deserved.

“Goodbye Frank, my life is all the richer for having been able to call you my friend. I will miss you and feel blessed to have known you.”


Susan Walsh, Vice Chairman, Irish Miler Club, said: “Frank's (or Francis as Brendan calls him) influence transcended the Irish Sea, and we have been privileged that he has had a great influence on Irish athletics also. The thoughts of the Irish Milers Club are with you, our friends, in the British Milers Club in this your time of great sorrow.

“Ar dheis dé go raiibh a anam.”


Kabir Kemp & Sue Runcie emailed this short tribute:
“Frank - A wonderful friend and a brilliant, enthusiastic and outstanding coach! Your ideas, common sense and challenging sessions will always & forever be with us.Goodbye “tremendous” Frank.


Web Loudat fondly remembers many happy memories of time spent with Frank, training and socially.
“Frank has been my inspiration and good friend from the summer of 1971. After arriving at Heathrow, Robbin Barrett whisked me away to Crystal Palace to meet someone very special.
“Within minutes I was introduced to Frank Horwill who immediately introduced me to David Hemery. I was hooked. This was the running environment I’d always dreamed of.
“Frank had at least 20 athletes training that day. They had already finished their morning run and were about to do the mid-day track session.
“Since they’d already had a hard morning session, there was no fear that keeping up with them on the track would be a problem. Well, there was one young chap, Wayne Tarquini behind me; I found out later he was just being nice and didn’t want me to feel bad.
“It was a wonderful summer of training with Frank’s squad. He could get the best out of you and make it fun. There were times the squad swelled to around 30. It cost a small bit for each of us to run on the track. Frank would pay for 8 to 10 athletes and then send in all 30. I’m sure the management knew what was going on , but liked Frank so much that they let it pass.
“In 1979, I decided to come back to London for a year. Lived on the Isle of Dogs with Frank and Wayne Tarquini. A council flat half way up Kelson House. The lifts usually didn’t work, so we got some great workouts just getting up the stairs.
“Tim Hutchings was one of Frank’s rising stars. He was over at our place one Sunday after a training session at Greenwich Park . I was going on about all the athletes Frank had turned into great runners – Peter Beacham, Gill Tivey, Liz Brennan, Wayne Tarquini, Lesley Pamment, and Jim Douglas. Tim said, “Yes, Frank’s workouts can truly do amazing things for you, if you can survive them.”

“The woman’s squad was an exciting part of training with Frank. They were just as good as the guys and they were truly lovely to look at. It’s interesting how much better a guy will run with all those beauties about and we had to work hard just to stay ahead of them.
“Frank, thank you for all the great times and the wonderful experiences. It was always an honor to be one of the chosen you’d take to the Primavera Restaurant after a good training session.”


"Any success my athletes have had is 90 per cent due to them and 10 per cent to me. Not, as many coaches think, vice versa!" - Frank Horwill

He was the best 10% I've ever had. I feel very fortunate to have known and have been coached by him. Anyone who gives freely of as much of their own time to so many athletes over so many years is special, but Frank was such an exceptional coach on top of that, and a determined organizer to whose vision (and stubbornness!) the UK owes the existence of many of its best middle and long distance races through the British Milers' Club. RIP Comrade.

Hywel Care


"I remember the day I ventured to Battersea track
A new Belgrave joiner, all I knew was to ask for "Frank"
Hesitantly I enquired, not knowing what to expect
"Just follow me" said a voice from behind
And that was how I became a comrade of Frank

His sessions were like no others and in strength we grew
Reps on Frank's whistle - pushing boundaries only he knew
Hill sprints, back sprints, bridge loops and leap frogs galore
That was just the beginning
There would always be more !

Frank was always there for us, come rain or shine
In his smart navy track suit and cap, with a twinkle in his eye
A little anecdote or race result and our session was set
Although as Frank would remind us
"We haven't begun to work yet"

His Saturday sessions were legendry and not for the faint hearted
But for Frank we would give our all and not be down heartened
Exhausted and breathless, limbs aching, we could give no more
"And that concludes today's minor activities. On Tuesday we will train seriously !"
Frank's signature phrase we had been waiting for

Frank, you were a true inspiration to us
We will miss you
You live on in our hearts and minds
Frank, your comrades salute you"

Tilly Heaton

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