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UK Athletics

Basil heatley

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Full Name: Benjamin Basil Heatley.

Date of Birth: 25 December 1933

Born: Kenilworth, Warwickshire.

Club: Coventry Godiva H.

Coach: Self-coached.


Career summary
Some Record

Basil Heatley competed for Britain at only one major Championship, but his appearance came in a memorable Olympic Games marathon in Tokyo in 1964. He won a silver medal, and though Charlie Spedding was third in Los Angeles in 1984, no Briton has fared better over this distance at the Games since Heatley’s exploits. By then he was a world record holder on the track, and a significant one too, and, then he became the fastest man at 26.2 miles aswell. He was a competitor who excelled whatever the surfaces.

A Century Mark

Heatley joined Coventry Godiva Harriers at the end of 1950 and a few months later, he finished third in the National Youths cross-country followed by earning third place in the National Juniors in 1952. It was a tremendous breeding ground and in 1960, he won the AAA 10 miles title in a British record 48:18.4. He had made a glorious start to his career at the marathon when he won the Midlands Championships in 1956 in 2:36:55, defending the title 12 months later when he triumphed in 2:23:01 but he decided not run the distance again for six years. By that time he was among the world record holders. His first success came on April 15, 1961, when at the AAA in London, he ran 47:47.0 for Ten Miles to set the 100th ratified world record by a Briton.

 So Versatile

Prior to his world record success, earlier in 1961 he had won both National and International cross-country championships, the latter event is now the World Cross Country Championships, and here was proof of how good he could adapt to the change of conditions underfoot.Healtley won the National also in 1960, 1961 and 1963 and was second in the International in 1957, followed by three more top 10 finishes.

He returned to the marathon in Coventry in 1963 when he was second at the AAAs in 2:19:56 as Brian Kilby won the event for the fourth of five successive times in 2:16:45. But then Heatley triumphed at the Kosice Marathon. In 1964, he improved his track bests to 13:22.8 for Three Miles and 27:57.0 for Six Miles, but he did even better on June 13. At the famous Poly Marathon on a course between Windsor and Chiswick, he smashed the world best time to in 2:13:55. An Olympic silver was to follow…


Silver Finish

Having won the Olympic marathon title in a world best of 2:15:16 in Rome in 1960, Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila came back to retain his title in Tokyo - just weeks after having his appendix removed. It was some performance and with victory on October 21, he replaced Heatley in the record books when he won in 2:12:11 But the race for second place was equally thrilling because Japan’s Kokichi Tsuburaya entered the stadium next, even though he was four minutes adrift of the champion. Despite being cheered on by the home crowd, he was running out of strength and Heatley overtook him with 110m to go to take silver in 2:16:19. Tsuburaya was third in 2:16:22 but it was some day for Coventry Godiva AC because Heatley’s teammate Kilby, who had beaten him just a year earlier in the AAA, was fourth 2:17.02, finishing with an extraordinary sprint to cover the last 200m in 32.3.Heatley then retired and progressed to become a British team manager.


International Championships

1964: 2nd Mar Olympics

International CC: 1957- 2, 1958- 9, 1959- 4, 1960- 4

UK Internationals: 10 (1961-4)

National Championships

Won AAA 10M 1960-1; National CC 1960-1, 1963

Personal bests

1 mile 4:09.6 (1962), 3000m 8:13.2 (1961), 2 miles 8:46.0 (1963), 3 miles (13:22.8 (1964), 5000m 13:57.2 (1963), 6 miles 27:57.0 (1964), 10,000m 28:55.8 (1963), 15,000m 44:37.6 (1961), 10 miles 47:47.0 (1961); Road: marathon 2:13:55 (1964).