3:30pm Tuesday 20th August 2013
A TALENTED group of runners from Halesowen and Sandwell have reunited decades after their beloved coach died.
Malcolm Woodhouse was a coach and father figure to young athletes at Hadley Stadium, Warley, through the 1980s and early 1990s but died before he saw one of his athletes clinch gold for Great Britain.
The athletes, who had scattered across the country, all were reunited at Somers Sports and Social Club after being tracked down by Sandra McHardy whose family were part of the squad.
She said: “Some were hard to find due to changing their names but we spent months searching for the “missing” athletes and though it proved very difficult we were successful, all in all we tracked down 18 athletes.”
“It was a fantastic day and a wonderful tribute to Malcolm who they had never forgotten.” She added: “Malcolm was a very special man, he died at the age of 52 (21 years ago) and unfortunately this devastated us all and the squad eventually disbanded and went their separate ways.
“Malcolm had coached my son Steven through to the English Schools level of athletics which he competed in five and won gold and silver medals.
“Unfortunately Malcolm did not live to see him go on to compete for Great Britain and win a gold medal in the relay team in Europe.
“He always told him that even though he disliked flying and had never been on a plane he would break this pact if ever Steven got his GB vest.”
Mrs McHardy spent two months finding photos and produced a 238 page book containing photos of the athletic squad and presented all the remaining athletes with it as a memento.
She added: “It was a special day and Malcolm’s wife Olive and his two boys Michael and Kevin were overwhelmed with happiness, though obviously it brought back very poignant memories.”
“We were all worried we wouldn't recognise each other but we did and when we all met it was as though we had never been apart!
“We should have been sponsored that day by Kleenex.”
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