Sir Chris Chataway dead: First ever Sports Personality of the Year winner dies aged 82

The former athlete, politician and broadcaster had suffered from cancer for two and a half years

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Sir Chris Chataway, the former British athlete and first ever winner of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year (Spoty) award, has died aged 82.

The former 5,000 metres world record-holder, who also set the pace for Sir Roger Bannister to run the four-minute mile in 1954, passed away at around 7am this morning at St John’s Hospice in north London.

Sir Chris’s son Mark Chataway said that despite suffering from cancer for the past two and a half years, his father had never lost his interest in keeping fit, and was on his exercise bike every morning up until a couple of weeks ago.

He received the inaugural BBC Spoty award in 1954, the year in which he took gold the three miles event at what was then called the British Empire and Commonwealth Games.

Mr Chataway, 53, described his father as a “very compassionate and wise man” who had the “ability to put other people's needs first”.

“We were, especially in these last few years, struck by his amazing qualities of humility and strength,” he said.

Sir Chris (right) congratulates Roger Bannister (centre) on setting a new record for running the mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds

In 1995 Sir Chris was knighted for his services to the aviation industry, having chaired the Civil Aviation Authority, and Mr Chataway said he and his siblings “grew up with him as a person, not as a runner”, adding: “Of course we all thought it was remarkable. We all saw the old footage, but I think as a child that's not what you focus on in a parent.

”He kept running almost until the end of his life. He ran with a couple of my brothers in the Great North Run about three years ago now,“ Mr Chataway said. “And he did it in a very respectable time.”

Sir Chris long and varied career also saw him work as a Conservative party politician and a broadcaster with the ITV and the BBC.

But Mr Chataway said he believed he would most like to be remembered as “a wonderful father, a husband, and a grandfather”.

“Those probably mattered more than any of the sporting or political things,” he said.

He is survived by his sons Mark, Matthew, Adam, Charles, Ben, his daughter Joanna, his wife Carola and his former wife Anna.