Athlete, broadcaster and politician;
Athlete, broadcaster and politician;
Born: 31 January 1931; Died: January 19, 2014.
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Sir Chris Chataway, who has died aged 82, was a former 5,000 metres world record-holder and acted as a pacemaker to help Sir Roger Bannister become the first man to break the four-minute mile barrier in 1954. He also excelled in a number of other areas: he was the first newsreader on independent television, he was a minister in a number of Conservative Governments and he was a successful businessman and a chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority.
He was born in Chelsea and educated at Sherborne School in Dorset, where he showed a talent for running early on. His first important win after school was in 1950 when he won the Inter-Services Mile with a time of 4:15:6, a British junior record.
After completing his national service, he went up to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied politics, philosophy and economics. His talent for athletics was obvious there too and he became president of the University Athletic Club, where he also became friends with Bannister.
The peak of his athletics career was in the mid 1950s and although he only ran for five years, he achieved a number of notable successes in that time. He entered the record books four times, he won the Commonwealth three-miles title in 1954 and he made two Olympic finals.
The best year of his career was 1954. Not only did he became a national hero when broke the 5000m world record, beating the Russian, Vladimir Kuts, in May of that year, he ran the final lap as a pacemaker to help Bannister on his war to breaking the four-minutes, with a time of 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. Later in the year, Sir Chris won the first BBC Sports Personality Of The Year title in what was the first year of the competition.
He represented Great Britain twice at the Olympics, the first time was in 1952 when he finished 5th in the 5000m and then again in 1956, when he was 11th in the same event. He achieved his personal best in the 5000 in 1954 when he ran 13:51.6.
While pursuing his career as a sportsman, he also branched out into other areas. In 1955, he joined Independent Television News as a reported before joining the BBC as a commentator on current affairs. He later worked on Panorama.
By the later 1950s, he had also entered politics and was elected as the Conservative MP for North Lewisham and for several years thereafter juggled two careers, in politics and television. He lost his seat in 1964, but worked in local government for a time, becoming leader of the Greater London Council's Inner London Education Committee.
In 1969, he won another seat, this time in Chichester, and became the opposition spokesman on the environment. When the Tories won the General Election in 1970 under Ted Heath, Sir Chris became minister of telecommunications. It was the first of a number of ministerial posts, including minister in the Department of Trade and Industry
In his mid-40s, Sir Chris left politics and embarked on yet another career in business. He had senior positions in BT Systems and was vice-chairman of the Orion Royal Bank of Canada. In 1988, he was appointed chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority and in 1995 was knighted for his services to the aviation industry. He also served as chairman of the Bletchley Park Trust, responsible for the upkeep of the wartime code breaking museum.
His interest in keeping fit stayed with him as his life progressed, and up until a couple of weeks ago he had been on his exercise bike every morning.
He kept his passion for running alive even when he was approaching 80 years of age. He kept running until almost the end of his life and three years ago ran the Great North Run. Speaking about taking part in the run, he said: "I sometimes think that running, which was a sort of tormentor in my youth, has returned to be a friendly codger in my old age - that what was Joe Stalin has turned into Dixon of Dock Green."
Sir Chris and Sir Roger remained good friends for the whole of Sir Chris's life. "He was gallant to the end," said Sir Roger. "Our friendship dated back over more than half a century. We laughed, ran and commiserated together. People will always remember him for the great runner he was, but it shouldn't be forgotten that he had an extremely distinguished career off the track."
Sir Chris said in his later years that he was delighted to have rediscovered his love of running. "I run most days," he said. "I love it and I can't think why I spent so many years of my middle life doing silly things like smoking."
He is survived by his sons Mark, Matthew, Adam, Charles, Ben, his daughter Joanna, his wife Carola and his former wife Anna.