The early 1980s were a remarkable time for British distance running, and in 1982, one of the most enduring when a Coventry Godiva ruled the world. The Bislett Games in Oslo remain one of the main events of any athletics summer, but few have been as spectacular for Britain that than of July 7, 1982. Moorcroft was renowned for having a superb finishing kick but on this balmy evening, he changed tactics and from 800m onwards in the 5000m, he charged away into history.
He won in 13:00.41, breaking the old record of Kenya’s Henry Rono by 5.39 seconds. Prior to his glorious achievements in Oslo, Moorcroft had established himself among a generation of fine British distance runners, with distance being the operative word. It did not matter whether it was short, or long, he had an ability to impress, switching his body-clock from 1500m to 5000m in style.
In 1978, he won the 1500m Commonwealth Games title in Edmonton and then three years later triumphed in the 5000m at the European Cup in Zagreb. Having established the world record in 1982, he then won the 5000m at the Commonwealths in Brisbane before finishing third behind West Germany’s Thomas Wessinghage over the same distance at the European Championships in Prague.
Not only did Moorcroft have speed in abundance, his stamina was overflowing, and there was no greater evidence than here during his early career when he came through to make the podium in what, in those days, was the most important domestic race of the cross country season. In 1976 made the Olympic 1500m final. It proved to best placing at the Games, because he was ill in Moscow in 1980 and in 1984, injury again struck at the wrong time, when he trailed in last in the 5000m final in Los Angeles.
His final national title came at 3000m in 1989, and in 1993 at the age of 40 he smashed the British veterans record for the mile, running 4:02.53 in Belfast, passing 1500m in a record 3:46.7 en route. In 1993, he was awarded an MBE and by 1999, he received an OBE. In between those years, Moorcroft played a greater role off of the track than he had arguably his time on it.
Once he had retired from running, he had worked in Coventry on youth and sports projects and also on radio and TV for the BBC on athletics, before being appointed chief executive of the British Athletics Federation (BAF) in October 1997.
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