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John Disley

John Disley

Doctor John Disley CBE
Physical Education 1948 and 1951
Hon DUni, 2009

John set Welsh records in athletics at six distances, and British records four times over the old distance of two miles and five times for the 3,000m steeplechase. In 1952, he won the bronze medal at the Helsinki Olympics in the latter event.

It was at Loughborough that John claims his athletics career really started. He met the man who became his mentor – tutor Geoffrey Dyson, Loughborough’s athletics director, later claiming that “if I hadn’t met him, my whole life would have been different.”

Alongside his phenomenal athletics career, he taught physical education at Isleworth Grammar School, 1951-55.He was then appointed as the first Chief Instructor and Acting Warden of Plas y Brenin, the Central Council for Physical Recreation’s new Centre for Mountain Activities. He then served as Inspector of Education for Surrey Education Authority for 13 years (1958-71). During this time, he was named also Vice-Chairman of the National Sports Council (1965-71), and later Vice-Chairman of the UK Sports Council (1974-82).

However, he is perhaps best known as the co-founder of the London Marathon, launched in 1981, which now attracts over 35,000 runners who raising significant sums of money for charity. He has also been a leading pioneer of orienteering in the UK, organising the World Championships in Scotland in 1976.

John’s sporting achievements were recognised by the University in 2009 when he was awarded an honorary doctorate.