Delve into the archive…

…and discover inspiring stories and amazing objects from the history of athletics

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  • The miles of May: remembering two record breaking runs
    May 2024 has seen the 70th anniversary of not one, but two ground-breaking miles. Roger Bannister became the first male athlete to break the men’s four minute mile on 6th May 1954 – an achievement which brought him international recognition and created a renewed national interest in men’s middle distance […]
  • 70th Anniversary of Bannister’s Mile
    Roger Bannister’s famous sub-four minute was achieved at Oxford University’s Iffley Road track on 6th May 1954. A gifted middle-distance runner, Bannister represented Great Britain at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics over 1500m, narrowly missing out on a medal against an incredibly strong field, though setting a new British record in […]
  • Diane Leather: the other miracle mile
    May this year sees the 70th anniversary of not one, but two ground-breaking mile records. Roger Bannister became the first male athlete to break the men’s four minute mile barrier when he ran on 6th May 1954, but less well known is Dianne Leather, who broke the women’s five minute […]
  • Sportshall Athletics: from village hall to global phenomenon
    Chances are, if you went to primary school in the UK in the 90s, 00, or 2010s, you’ve had some engagement with Sportshall Athletics, either the equipment – foam javelins anyone? – the competition, or the legacy. Sportshall is a professional outfit, with the equipment and expertise to deliver athletics […]
  • Stained Glass Runners
    There’s a running shop in Canterbury UK on Burgate called The Running Outlet. They stock the running socks I like and out of the back window there’s a great view Canterbury Cathedral. It’s quite novel having your gait checked and being fitted for a pair of running shoes – all […]
  • Pioneers of Women’s Athletics in the North
    The theme of this years International Women’s Day is Invest in Women, Accelerate Progress. The Athletics Museum looks at how pioneering women in our sport have made this a reality
  • The history of the ‘National’ cross county
                                       By Eamonn Martin, English Cross Country Association. The amazement of the ‘National’ whether you have run in it or watched it will stay with you. The vision of the stampede at the start with the array of coloured club vests from all around the country, some more famous than […]
  • Rome 1960: unorthodox training method yields Olympic gold
    The 1960 Rome Olympics saw a lean haul of medals for the British team with only two golds across the whole Games. One was in the pool, Anita Lonsbrough winning the 200m breaststroke, the other was out on the roads with Don Thompson, seeking redemption, taking it to the line […]
  • Relay switches – the evolution of the relay
    Think of a relay. Likely what springs to mind is a team of four athletes trying to get their baton around the track as fast as possible. Maybe it’s the jostling of the waiting athletes at the exchange in the 4x400m or the the jeopardy of trying to make a […]
  • From largest to smallest, what our historic trophies tell us about athletics
    The Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) trophies are a wealth of information about the history the sport. Some of the great names of athletics appear on the trophies, and the stories of the sponsors of each event gives an insight into how athletics has developed over the years. The oldest trophies […]