Derek Ibbotson loved the fun of being a world-class athlete back in his pomp.
The Longwood Harriers legend, who has died at the age of 84, was a national and international star as British middle-distance running enjoyed a golden era in the 1950s.
An Olympic bronze medalist in 1956 and World Mile record holder, Ibbotson, from Berry Brow, was a talent who trained extremely hard – and a true Yorkshire character as well.
In May 2006, he did an interview with David Thurlow of Track Stats, explaining how things were so much different in the sport back then compared with nowadays.
Once, after representing Great Britain and running a very fast three miles, he was asked if he’d run in a mile event in London two days later.
He explained he and his then fiancee Madeline were taking a cousin of hers from the USA on a sightseeing trip so he couldn’t, but he would reconsider if there was an extra dinner-dance ticket for the visitors made available for the swish post-meeting event.
“I would have got “10,000 now,” joked Ibbotson.
“But nowadays they don’t get the fun we had then.
“They were fantastic days, friendly, competitive and parties when the racing was over.
“Now they fly in, run, and off to the next meeting – loads of money but no fun.”
Ibbotson became World Mile record holder in July 1957.
“I had a golden streak, winning everything, running three sub four-minute miles in the year and losing only races at the end, when I was tired,” he explained.
“I ran 48 races that year - I loved to race.”
Ibbotson took time out to ‘recharge his batteries’ after that season – and regretted it for the rest of his life!
“It was a mistake, a major mistake and a very costly one,” he said.
“By taking the time off and living the high rich life with parties and dinners and do’s, I let myself down.
“I did not train, and I should have done because I loved running and racing. If you don’t do the training through the winter you don’t have the basis for the summer.
“By the time I made it back again, a year and a half had gone.”
Ibbotson did return to the world’s elite, but he failed to medal in the Commonwealth Games of 1958 and 1962.
He had a big farewell at the White City in 1964, but continued running at national level for another two seasons.
“I enjoyed it, I would have made a lot of money if I’d been running now, but I had a fantastic time.”