I can still hear John’s voice resonating across Mile End’s floodlit track, on winter nights. “Ho!” would be the cry, signalling ANOTHER 300m repetition. The group would lurch forwards to speed, assuming a human steam train, as it hurtled through the night, heavy breathing becoming condensation, pluming into the cold air. “Right through!” would signal the end of every repetition, followed by his trademark chuckle and smile. I think I only saw him angry once.
John was easily recognized. Aside of the trademark smile, his pure white hair was never out of place and he was probably the ONLY man to carry fresh-pressed corduroy pants into the year 2000! Along with his everlasting stopwatches and small bounce, when he joked with his athletes, a key part of UK Athletics has disappeared. Judging from the many pleasant comments I’ve seen, and based on what I know of him personally, however, this disappearance is only in body. It’s very clear that his legacy and many pleasant memories still live on. To coin the statement of a good friend of mine, “300m reps, on 60s recovery will never be the same!”
John Sullivan, sir, salute.