It was a great shock to hear of the very sad loss of Gordon Surtees.
Gordon has been a dedicated coach for more than 50 years and I first came to know him in the early eighties at BMC Meets in the North West. During these years Gordon has coached numerous athletes from youngsters and relative novices through to Major Games. His great breadth of knowledge can be seen in the number of athletes he has coached in the U.K. All Time Lists across such varied events as 800m, s/c and marathon. Some of these top athletes include Tom Hanlon, Denis Coates, Colin Walker, Tony Morrell, Ikem Billy and Steve Kenyon.
It was as fellow GB Team Coaches at the Major Games that I got to know Gordon far better and he gave me some insight to his coaching philosophy. 'We might be coaching at the Olympic Games but remember we are here for one thing and that is the care of the athletes and to help them to be in the best possible shape on the Start Line. And nothing else matters'.
This dedication to the athletes occasionally caused the ruffling of officialdom feathers but Gordon would be unrepentant. He was a man of principle and for this he was much respected. Many will remember his carefully worded critique of the State of U.K. Endurance at the 2015 National Endurance Conference. Gordon pulled no punches and pointed to the many areas of coaching and training methods which required change if standards were to improve. On this occasion Gordon spoke in amazing factual detail without the aid of slides or overheads for about 60 minutes. His powers of oratory and recall were something I have never seen in Athletics before.
Gordon's sense of self deprecating humour are also legendary. Occasionally when kit is handed out to the Teams mistakes will have been made oversize/under size items. On one occasion as kit was being offered Gordon gleefully announced 'Look this tracksuit top fits me'. One arm of the top was longer than the other and amazingly it suited Gordon's needs, he had one under developed arm from birth. Needless to say that Gordon was rewarded with much laughter from the Team. An asset very much needed in successful Teams.
The legend that is Gordon will be very much missed by his athletes, friends and coaching colleagues within our Sport.
The BMC is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Gordon Surtees. Many generations of athletes, particularly in the North East have benefited from Gordon's knowledge and wisdom. In his coaching career he guided numerous internationals such as Ikem Billy and Tony Morrell. Gordon was recognised by the BMC in 2015 as winner of our Coaching Lifetime Achievement Award. He used the occasion of his award to present his analysis of the state of athletics in an inspiring speech full of common sense and wisdom. In it Gordon related his own career as an engineering apprentice to the needs of an athlete to learn the sport. He was an ever present at our Grand Prix meetings. His knowledge and original thinking will be greatly missed.
The BMC would like to to express our deep sympathy to his family, friends, and athletes past and present.