Stan's 2012 Olympic dream

NONAGENARIAN former marathon runner Stan Cox would love to light the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 games.

Richard Cornwell

NONAGENARIAN former marathon runner Stan Cox would love to light the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 games.

If officials allow him to take part, super-fit Stan - who celebrates his 90th birthday tomorrow - would be the link between the last time Britain staged the games and the celebrations 64 years on as the event returns to this country.

“I don't know of anybody else still alive who took part in the 1948 games in London,” he said.

“I have not been in contact with any of the other competitors for years.

“It is my dearest wish to be involved in some way in 2012 - I will be 94 by then but as long as I am still fit and active, I would love to take part in the ceremony.

Most Read

“To be able to carry the torch some of the way in the stadium, be one of the bearers to hand it to the person who lights the flame, or even to light it, would be wonderful, just superb.

“We will have to wait and see what happens but I am just hoping it will be possible.”

Stan, of Dellwood Avenue, Felixstowe, is well-known around the resort and keeps as fit as he can - walking briskly about four miles every day.

On his birthday, he will lead a group of health walkers on a two-mile walk along Felixstowe prom followed by a lunch in his honour at the Fludyers Hotel, organised by his fellow walk leaders.

“I love leading the health walkers and encouraging people to exercise, which is so important for people of all ages,” said Stan.

“I am older than all the leaders and virtually everyone who takes part in the walks! That always causes some amusement and jokes.

“But the walks are always great fun and a great help to people. The growth of them has been astonishing and sometimes we have over 40 people. It's terrific.

“I am 90 and I feel fine. I exercise every day - I usually walk the length of the prom and back, which is about four miles or so, whatever the weather.”

Stan was a marathon and long-distance runner and medal winner in several Olympic and Commonwealth Games in the 40s and 50s.

“Things were very different in 1948 and athletes were expected to contribute to their own expenses,” he said.

“I had to take a day out of my holidays to complete my run and then it was back to work - so I didn't even see the rest of the games. As there was food rationing, however, I was allowed an extra pint of milk a day to help build up my strength.”

- Tuesday's walk starts at 11 am from The Fludyers, Undercliff Road East.

- What do you think of Stan's achievements? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FAST FACTS: Stan Cox

- He took part in the 1948 Olympics in London but was working until the day before the race - unlike modern professional athletes. He finished seventh in the race won by Czech athlete Emil Zatopek but commentators said Stan had run an extra lap.

- Despite a doctor telling him he should not run in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Stan took part in the marathon but collapsed after about 20 miles - he later discovered he had been suffering from the flu.

- In 1939 he was a member of the England team which faced the Germans just days before the war broke out and the bronze medal he picked up in Cologne shows both the Union flag and the Nazi swastika on opposite corners.

- In 1948 Stan was the British six-mile (10,000 metres) champion, clocking up a

time of around 29 minutes.

- He was selected for the 1950 Empire and Commonwealth Games in New Zealand, but was told by his employers that if he went there would be no job on his return so he stayed at home.

- He is in the Hall of Fame in Vancouver because he took part in the 1954 Empire Games - what is today the Commonwealth Games.