England Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee 2016 – Ron Roddan

In 2008 England Athletics started the Hall of Fame to honour those people who have made an outstanding contribution to the sport of athletics. This year the seven inductees included TVH sprints coach Ron Roddan. Ron was presented with his induction award by Linford Christie at the awards ceremony on 15th October.

Ade Mafe who competed for TVH also received an award as part of the Tokyo Men’s 4 x 400m relay team.

England Athletics synopsis of Ron’s athletics career is copied below.

Ron Roddan

As an athlete with Thames Valley Harriers, which he joined in 1947, he was a decent club sprinter who was a medallist at the Middlesex Championships and whose best result was a 50.2 quarter-mile. But as a sprints coach Ron Roddan became a legend. Since he began coaching in 1964 he has guided more than 30 athletes to international status, the most celebrated of course being Linford Christie.

Born in Crewe, Roddan was aged six when in 1937 his family moved to London. As a runner he started at the middle distances, dropping down to the sprints in his early twenties. His transition to training other sprinters was not planned. His own coach retired due to health problems and Roddan, then in his early thirties, was urged by his team-mates to take over. “Initially, I carried on with what my coach had taught us, but then I went on courses, met other coaches and began to put my own ideas to work.”

He was not a professional coach. He worked as an engineer for 15 years, with two years out for national service in the Army, and then was a Geological Society laboratory technician until he was made redundant in 1990. But he always found time to coach, initially at Alperton, then at West London (later Linford Christie) Stadium, and he derived as much satisfaction from helping the less talented to improve as with those who reached the top. “My athletes getting PBs or just running better than they thought they were capable of… those moments make me feel that it is all worthwhile.”

A quiet man, Roddan was always respected by those he advised – a father figure to them. “I’m not pushy. I’m the opposite to what most sprinters are. They’re brash, loud and extroverted. I don’t know what it is but I just seem to be approachable.”  His first major successes were Mick Hauck, who developed into a 46.75 400m performer, and Dick Steane, who set a British 200m record of 20.66 at the Mexico City Olympics. Many more followed before that day in 1979 when a 19 year old by the name of Linford Christie approached Roddan. He had placed second in the English Schools 200m and his best times were 10.7 and 21.8. Christie had talent but in those early days lacked self-discipline. “He just wouldn’t come training and only did when he felt like it,” Roddan recalled.

Following the 1984 season, by which time Christie’s PBs were 10.44 and 21.38, Roddan gave him an ultimatum on the lines of “either work seriously or don’t waste my time.” That was the turning point. In 1985 he clocked a wind assisted 10.20 and early in 1986 he won his first international title, the 200m at the European Indoor Championships. Later that year he succeeded Allan Wells as UK record holder for 100m and the rest is history, a brilliant career climaxed by Olympic (1992) and World (1993) titles. The Roddan legacy lives on as, having learned so much from his mentor, Christie is himself a highly successful coach these days.

Linford Christie presented Ron with his award.
Linford Christie presented Ron with his award.