As the Olympics are approaching, a plaque has been unveiled this week, in an honour of a past hero Olympic silver medallist and five-time record holder Gordon Pirie (1931 – 1991).
Gordon Pirie, a Croydon resident, was a middle and long distance runner for almost half a century. He competed in the South London Harriers based in Coulsdon, Mead Way.
Councillor Graham Bass, the Mayor of Croydon, unveiled the plaque. The Bourne Society members, the charity Living Streets and East Coulsdon Residents Association collaborated to commission this project.
The location of the plaque is on the “Comrades of The Great War” club building in front of the South London Harriers building on Brighton Road.
In Pirie’s earlier years, he invented the spiked racing shoes with the late Adolf Dassler (Adiddas, shoe company).
In 1955 he won the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Award. And a year after, he won a silver medal for the 5,000 meter run, at the summer Olympics in Melbourne.
Pirie died of stomach cancer at the age of 60 in 1991.
In his book ‘Running Fast and Injury Free’ Pirie wrote: “Running is an activity which comes naturally to all human beings.”
“It is of course true that some people are born with a particular set of physical and psychological characteristics that make them better runners than the rest, but, nevertheless, everyone can run well at some distance.”
Dr John S Gilbody, an editor the book, wrote: “Of many things about Gordon, what particularly impressed was his physical fitness, and desire for perfection with all things athletic.”
Charlie King, chairman of the East Croydon Resident’s Association said: “We had a number of requests from friends of Gordon to put up some sort of recognition of him, and what with it being an Olympics year, and 20 years since his death, the timing seemed appropriate.”