Obituary: Cliff Temple

Cliff Temple, writer, journalist, athletics coach: born 1947; married (two sons, two daughters; marriage dissolved); died 8 January 1994.

CLIFF TEMPLE was at the heart of athletics, as a writer and a coach.

During his 25 years as Athletics Correspondent of the Sunday Times Temple brought many things to the sport which he loved. He had a wide knowledge which enabled him to produce books on running which were regarded as virtual set texts; and an expertise which was demonstrated by his success in coaching athletes to the highest level - amongst them Shireen Bailey, a finalist in the 1988 Olympic 1,500m final, Mike Gratton, winner of the 1983 London Marathon, and Sarah Rowell, a former British marathon record holder.

Above all, he had an instinct for communicating his enthusiasm, and, partly through the medium of the Sunday Times Fun Runs, he was one of the people who did most to make running a people's game in the boom years of the 1980s.

Whatever Temple did, it had a humanity and humour about it. He was utterly serious about athletics, and utterly incapable of being po- faced or pompous about it. In his teens, as a gifted writer of comedy scripts, he had been in two minds about which career to pursue. In the end, he chose athletics, but he continued to contribute sketches and one-liners to radio programmes such as Week Ending and Hudd- Lines, and television comedies such as The Benny Hill Show.

His sporting output was similarly wide-ranging. Apart from contributing to magazines in Britain and abroad, he co-wrote books with leading athletes, notably Brendan Foster, in 1978, and Dave Moorcroft, in 1984. His other titles included Middle Distance Running, and Marathon, Cross Country and Road Running (1990), which were full of his quirky mix of information leavened with wit and first- hand experience of the vicissitudes of the club runner. He also produced television programmes such as The Running Programme, for Anglia in 1987, and a work entitled The Rear End, a slimming programme for women.

Temple knew the sport inside out, but he would never miss the detail which gave his readers a sideways view on whatever was going on. At Crystal Palace four years ago, after Steve Backley had broken the world javelin record, Temple was on hand to witness his reflective stroll over the darkened turf to the spot where his spear had landed. In Trondheim two years ago, as Daley Thompson laboured vainly to qualify for the Olympics at the last minute in a virtually deserted stadium, it was Temple who spotted one man and his dog in the stand. Typically, he found out the name of the dog. In Stuttgart, at last year's world championships, Temple was the man who actually went and spoke to the sprinter who failed to qualify from the opening round of the 100 metres after being obliged to run in borrowed shoes.

One of Temple's books was dedicated to Julie Rose, whom he coached to the AAA indoor 3,000m title in 1982 and whose promising career was ended when she was killed in an air crash in 1985. In recent years, he worked to publicise and raise funds for the installation of an all-weather track in her memory. The track is just starting to be laid at Ashford, in Kent. Last week Cliff was talking of plans for an official opening in October.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own