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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Athletics innovator and administrator supreme, John Lister, dies aged 81

Clive Williams seems to be on the exceptional achievements of one of many UK’s best athletics directors

John Lister, who died on Could 6 aged 81, was certainly one of Britain’s main athletics directors and innovators and one of many architects of the construction of the modern-day sport within the UK.

He was a exceptional man who was simply at dwelling serving his membership, the place he was treasurer for nearly 40 years, as occupying the identical function for the UK governing physique. He was the UK consultant on the governing physique of European athletics for 12 years and was awarded the MBE in 2010 for his companies to athletics.

John will go down in UK athletics historical past as the person who put the proposal on behalf of his membership, Cardiff AAC, to the AAA AGM in 1982 for a single governing physique to control athletics within the UK. On the time all the numerous branches of the game within the UK had been ruled by separate our bodies.

The proposal was overwhelmingly permitted nevertheless it took one other 10 years earlier than the brand new UK governing physique – the British Athletics Federation (BAF) – turned operational. So Cardiff AAC – and certainly athletics in Wales – had been within the vanguard of organisational change in a sport that had been largely unchanged since being codified a century earlier.

On listening to the information of his loss of life the previous UKA President and 1964 Olympic lengthy soar champion Lynn Davies mentioned: “John was a private buddy and an uncompromising chief and administrator and the game of athletics within the UK and certainly Europe has misplaced an distinctive pace-setter who devoted his life to our sport.”

He continued: “John was additionally a really beneficiant particular person, and I used to be very grateful when, together with one other Cardiff businessman in 2014, he paid for Ralph Boston, the 1960 Olympic Champion and former world record-holder to come back to Cardiff to assist me have fun the 50th anniversary of my Tokyo win.”

John Lister with Lynn Davies and Ralph Boston

In 1986 John turned treasurer of the AAA which on the time ruled the game in England and Wales. He held this put up till BAF was fashioned in 1991, holding the treasurer place till 1996. Curiously presently, his Cardiff membership colleague the late Invoice Evans was chair of the AAA after which of BAF, so successfully two members of the Cardiff membership had been two of most necessary officers in UK athletics. Underlining the dedication of each to grassroots athletics, they may typically be discovered serving within the membership’s canteen!

In 1995 John was elected the UK’s consultant on the European Athletics Council and held this function with distinction for 12 years. He finally turned chairman of the advertising and marketing and communication committee and on this function he was the lead official within the supply of the 2002 (Munich) and 2006 (Gothenburg) European Championships. He stood down from his European function in 2007 and as a mark of his service was awarded the standing of European Athletics Honorary Council Member. World triple soar record-holder Jonathan Edwards changed him because the UK’s consultant.

On retiring from his European actions he was awarded the MBE for his companies to athletics and have become solely the second Briton after the late Sir Arthur Gold to obtain the IAAF Plaque of Benefit on the forty sixth IAAF congress in Osaka throughout the 2007 World Championships. Each awards had been made in recognition of his contribution to athletics as a competitor and administrator at membership, Welsh, UK and European stage for nearly half a century.

John Lister in 2008 (Mark Shearman)

Initially a member of Birchgrove Harriers, which he joined when a pupil at Cardiff Excessive Faculty, he was one of many prime movers for the amalgamation of the 2 Cardiff golf equipment – Birchgrove and Roath Harriers to type Cardiff AAC in 1968.

He led a small working group which produced the “Birchgrove Report” a yr or so earlier than the amalgamation which turned the blueprint for the brand new membership and certainly many different new golf equipment within the UK. The brand new membership simply didn’t win the British League title within the first yr of the league in 1969 earlier than happening to win the league title for 3 successive years between 1972 and 1974.

John was one of many main lights within the formation of the league and certainly, one of many star performers within the Cardiff workforce which turned Britain’s high membership by taking the British League title, profitable the Pye Cup in 1973 and changing into the primary British membership to compete within the European Golf equipment’ Championship in Belgium in 1975.

Exhibiting his administrative abilities at a comparatively younger age when nonetheless competing at a excessive stage, he needed to hurriedly hand write the primary British league structure in 1969 to formalise issues simply earlier than the primary ever league match occurred in Twickenham in Could 1969 with newly fashioned Cardiff within the high division.

As an excellent athlete he first hit the headlines setting a brand new Welsh excessive soar document aged 19 in 1961 which made him the main performer for his age and the fifth greatest general in Britain that yr. He went on to win 12 senior Welsh and several other junior titles. His senior wins had been 4 at 120 yards hurdles, two at 220 yards hurdles, 4 at excessive soar and two at decathlon. Though a high quality all-rounder, he disliked the pole vault within the decathlon and sometimes he would excessive soar increased than he may obtain within the vault. Certainly, he no-heighted in a single Welsh decathlon championship however nonetheless gained the title!

John competed within the well-known 1965 duel in Cardiff between Davies and the person he beat in Tokyo, the 1960 Olympic champion Ralph Boston. John completed fourth with 7.21m, a distance that might have gained him the Welsh title final yr. And that occasion was in all probability his fourth greatest occasion – and he achieved that leap off a cinder run-up virtually 65 years in the past.

It was largely because of John’s endeavours and a small variety of different Cardiff officers, together with the late Don Robinson, that the primary Leckwith monitor was constructed within the late Eighties. This changed the outdated Maindy Stadium which had closed virtually 20 years earlier that means that the Cardiff British league workforce needed to maintain their dwelling fixtures in Cwmbran.

He then led the discussions with Cardiff Metropolis Council on behalf of Cardiff AAC for the switch of the membership’s headquarters from the outdated Leckwith Stadium to the brand new athletics facility throughout the highway, which now as Cardiff Worldwide Sports activities Campus, is the HQ of Welsh Athletics (WA) the governing physique of the game in Wales.

James Williams, the CEO of Welsh Athletics and a former Cardiff captain and British league workforce supervisor, mentioned: “The contribution John made to the game throughout the UK was immense, it isn’t an understatement to say that there could be no Welsh Athletics Ltd with out the work undertaken by John within the 80’s and early 90’s to determine the British Athletics Federation, the precursor to the present governing physique UK Athletics. It’s testomony to his ardour for the game that on the identical time he was on the council of European Athletics, he was additionally an ever current in his membership Cardiff AAC.”

He added: “Throughout my time with the membership, I’d typically get pleasure from our discussions about the way forward for the game, and he was at all times prepared to supply assist and recommendation to any budding membership officer. John will go down as some of the influential folks within the sport of athletics, and the impression of his work will likely be felt throughout the entire of Europe.”

John Lister (Mark Shearman)

In addition to John’s close to 40-year stint as Cardiff membership treasurer, he had been membership captain, chairman and president. He was awarded the Welsh AAA Award of Honour in 2009 having been a member of the Welsh AAA govt committee for nearly 11 years throughout the Sixties and early Seventies whereas nonetheless competing.

John formally retired as a competitor aged 32 and turned full consideration to the executive facet of the game, and as a chartered accountant he was splendid for the assorted roles that got here his means. In personal life he was a really profitable businessman and confirmed huge power to fulfil his many athletics roles while nonetheless operating his profitable enterprise.

He juggled his enterprise life, aggressive profession and administrative roles with nice ability, in an period the place there have been no skilled athletics directors and the place all front-line roles had been carried out by volunteers.

In 2011, he produced a e-book, Athletics in the UK – the rise and fall of the British Athletics Federation which recounts the tortuous battles he and others had with the then governing our bodies within the UK to modernise the game.

The e-book is an enduring epitaph to one of many UK’s excellent athletics visionaries, the like of whom we’ll by no means see once more.

Former Welsh decathlon and 400m hurdles champion Derek Fishwick summed-up John’s immense contribution to our sport, saying: “John was not at all times the most well-liked determine, due to his direct and business-like method. However beneath that cool exterior was a person who was more practical, bold and beneficiant than anybody I ever knew within the sport of athletics.

“It’s onerous to think about a Welshman who made a much bigger impression on our sport at each stage. He was an enormous hitter and an all-rounder in each sense of the phrase: A proficient multi-eventer; a loyal clubman; a consultant of the game on the highest stage; and a dedicated chief via many many years.”

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