HE’S following in the footsteps of some of Britain’s greatest-ever runners.
Matthew Johnson, of Shelley, has been elected president of Oxford University Athletic Club.
And that means the Holmfirth Harrier joins the ranks of illustrious names such as Sir Roger Bannister, Sir Christopher Chataway, C B Fry, Adrian Metcalfe and Lord Archer, who were all presidents of the athletic club in their Oxford days.
Matthew, 21, is studying chemistry at Jesus College.
He joined Holmfirth Harriers – where his mother Julia was already a member – when he was just 12. His father is Dr Martin Johnson.
It didn’t take Matthew long to make his mark with the Harriers. He won the under 14’s Point to Point cross country trophy in his first season and went on to win a host of other Holmfirth accolades, including the Withinfields Shield for under 15 boys.
Matthew has won silver and bronze medals at the Yorkshire and North of England Championships at 1,500 and 3,000 metres.
Two years ago the former Huddersfield Grammar School pupil gained his Oxford Blue on a day he will never forget.
Selected as first reserve in the annual athletic match against arch rivals Cambridge, Matthew was not expecting to take part. But two minutes before the race, he was called on to run.
His performance so impressed the Oxford captain that he was immediately awarded a Blue for representing the university.
One of Matthew’s first duties as president was to attend a London charity auction organised by Lord Jeffrey Archer.
Various items of memorabilia had been donated, including a handbag from Lady Thatcher, but the object which created most interest was the original stopwatch used to time Roger Bannister’s sub four-minute mile in 1954. It was sold for the princely sum of £84,000.
Norman Berry, of Holmfirth Harriers said: “To be President of Oxford University Athletic Club is amazing; but Matthew is such a modest man that some of his Holmfirth club mates do not even know. He is not the sort of person to tell anyone.
“The honours which have come Matthew’s way are more than amply deserved. They could not have been earned by and given to a more modest and charming man. For the past 10 years, he has been a great asset and credit to our club.”
The hectic life of president has not deflected Matthew from a further ambition. He is still on track to get a first-class degree in chemistry.
Oxford awarded Matthew a scholarship as a result of a First in first-year exams and he has maintained this scholarship through his second and third years.
C B Fry (below) was a sportsman, politician and diplomat who was a renowned footballer and especially cricketer.
Roger Bannister was an outstanding athlete best known for running the first sub four-minute mile on May 6, 1954.
Chris Chataway (bottom left) was a compatriot of Bannister who represented England and went on to have a career as a broadcaster and politician.
Lord Archer, who made his name as a politician and author, was a top athlete in his Oxford days.