Preston Harriers’ stalwart Peter Warden recognised for services to athletics

Peter Warden with Jenny Meadows
Peter Warden with Jenny Meadows

Preston-based Olympian Peter Warden has been honoured for his devotion to athletics.

Warden, who represented Great Britain in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, was recognised for his services to the sport at the Hall of Fame and National Volunteer Awards and was presented with his prize by ex-Olympic 8oom runner Jenny Meadows.

The 78-year-old first stepped on to a track at the age of just six and went on to find much individual success, as well as going on to coach Kris Akabusi and many other talented athletes.

Warden said: “It’s absolutely amazing to be recognised. I’ve gone on for so long, about 50 odd years, since a six or seven-year-old it’s been my life.

“This is what I can’t get over – there were so many people that I’ve never met that just came up and either shook my hand or gave me a big hug and said congratulations.”

Warden, originally from Yorkshire but now based in Cottam, transformed himself from a child who raced in the cul-de-sac outside school into a man with countless medals from County Championships, national competitions and Commonwealth Games.

Arguably the highlight of his career, though, was his appearance in the Tokyo Olympics in the 400m hurdles where he narrowly missed out on a place in the finals. He said: “I remember it perfectly well – I was scared stiff.

“Prior to going there, the biggest crowd I’ve been in front of was probably about 3,500 and I walked into a packed stadium of about 90,000 so I nearly shrunk and nearly went back inside.

“From that point it really was quite shocking, quite scary but as soon as I actually got on to the track and focused on what I was doing the crowd disappeared.”

Warden also won two bronze medals at the 1966 Commonwealth Games.

Since finishing his running career, Warden has used his knowledge to coach others at Preston Harriers – and he has no plans of giving up anytime soon.

“The role of a coach is not necessarily to get someone up to the highest level but to help that person achieve their potential and that’s what we really should be there for whatever it might be,” he said.

“I shall probably drop dead on the track one day.

“We’ve got a couple of shovels so they can always bury me in the long jump pit!”