Tommy Godwin: Cyclist who won two Olympic medals


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The Independent Online

Tommy Godwin, who died in Solihull on 3 November, two days before his 92nd birthday, was a cyclist who won two Olympic medals for Britain. He went on to be heavily involved in the sport throughout his life.

Godwin won two bronze medals at the 1948 Olympics in London, in the team pursuit and kilometre time trial, which were held at Herne Hill velodrome in south London. When the Games returned to the city this summer, Godwin carried the Olympic torch through Solihull and was a keen supporter of Team GB at the velodrome in the Olympic Park.

Thomas Charles Godwin was born in Connecticut in 1920 to British parents, the family returning to Britain when he was 12. He became interested in cycling thanks to the 1936 Olympic Games. He won a 1,000m at The Butts track in Coventry in July 1939, but his Olympic hopes were delayed by the outbreak of war, during which he was an apprentice electrician, a reserved occupation, working for the bicycle and motorcycle firm, BSA.

At the 1948 Olympics he won two bronzes, in the team pursuit with Robert Geldard, Dave Ricketts and Wilfrid Waters, and the 1,000m time trial. Preparation for the pursuit was hampered by an argument among the coaching staff on the eve of the games, but after a poor performance in the qualifying round they improved by 17 seconds over the next three rounds, winning the bronze in a faster time than the French gold medallists.

He was selected for the time trial at two days' notice, without having ridden one in training. "It was a bad night," he recalled, "pitch black." He was back at work at BSA the following Monday. "Somebody there said, 'Oh you won a medal,' and I said. 'Yes.' He said, 'Well, the job we're doing today is so-and-so.' That was it."

In retirement Godwin managed the British squad at the 1964 Games in Tokyo, was president of the British Cycling Federation and ran the first British training camp in Majorca. He was Britain's first paid national coach in 1964, training a generation of track riders, including Graham Webb, who beat the British hour record and won the world road race championship, and Mick Bennett, who won Olympic in 1972 and 1976 . He also opened a cycle shop in Birmingham.

More recently, Godwin helped to launch the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust.