It is with great sadness that we learned that Ian Wainwright passed away in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Ian will be well known and fondly remembered by many of our senior athletes who benefited from his coaching and support over many years.
Ian devoted himself to athletics for more than 60 years as an athlete, qualified official, club stalwart and coach. He was a fine athlete in his own right. Ian’s own account of his athletics career provides a fascinating view into his development as an athlete and his sheer love of athletics and sport in general.
It is as a coach, role model and friend that he will be remembered by many athletes in our group and the many more that he inspired with his love for the sport over many decades. They will also remember the generosity and hospitality they enjoyed at Ian and Margaret’s home, enlivened by Ian’s endless anecdotes and humour. For our younger athletes and parents, our current group and its overall philosophy derives from Ian. He was head coach and the driving force behind the group until a terrible accident at home left him with broken vertebrae in his neck.
Ian spent untold hours coaching at the track, on the roads and over the country. He was constantly on the phone to athletes, discussing training and offering encouragement and support. Even after his accident, Ian made sure that he remained in close contact with his athletes. One of his proudest moments was to carry the Olympic torch in the lead up to London 2012—supported by family, friends and athletes with banners and balloons— in recognition of his contribution to athletics.
There are still many in the group who experienced sessions that not only taxed their physical abilities but also Ian’s fondness for mathematical or word puzzles that had to be solved as the session developed. Ian also inspired his athletes by his own example, running every day and carefully logging his mileage over many years. On one memorable occasion, while running with the group through a pine forest as a warm up before a track session, another group passed in the opposite direction with the coach at the back on a bike. Ian turned and shouted loudly, ‘coaches run!’
Everyone who encountered Ian will remember his forthright and honest views, his compassion, generosity, support, love of life and his sense of humour. Ian’s philosophy of life is aptly summed up in the words of one of his great heroes, Emil Zatopek: ‘Great is the victory, but the friendship of all is greater.’
Ian’s funeral will take place at Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium on Thursday 4 August at 12.30 pm.