Athletics journalist Vikki Orvice (Getty Images) © Copyright

British athletics journalist Orvice dies

The IAAF is deeply saddened to hear that British athletics journalist Vikki Orvice died on Wednesday (6) at the age of 56, having suffered with cancer for many years.

Raised in Sheffield in the north of England, Orvice joined The Sun newspaper as a football writer in 1995, becoming one of the first women to be employed as a sports writer for a national daily newspaper. She later branched out to cover athletics and Olympic sports for the publication, reporting at numerous major championships.

Orvice mentored many budding journalists over the past few decades and served as chairperson of the British Athletics Writers Association (BAWA) between 2003 and 2005, the first woman to be appointed the role. She was also vice-chair of the Football Writers Association, one of the directors of Women In Football and a member of the IAAF Press and Media Operations Advisory Group.

In 2016 she received the inspiration award at the BAWA Awards Ceremony, an award traditionally given just to athletes.

"Succeeding in life depends upon grit, determination, understanding, compassion and humour," said IAAF President Sebastian Coe. "Vikki exuded all those qualities and it was a deep pleasure to know her and work with her. A distinguished sports writer, Vikki never held back from a straight question. Yet her gift was that she always delivered it with an integrity and a smile that, however difficult the answer, made it a pleasure to respond.

"Vikki was a consummate professional in her journalistic career. Well researched, knowledgeable and passionate for the sport of athletics, she shone as The Sun’s correspondent.

"We were both forged in Sheffield, one of us more fleetingly than the other, but the bond was there, whether we talked about athletics, which we both cared deeply about, football which we were both passionate about, albeit different teams, people, who enthralled or exasperated us, or Sheffield and Yorkshire which held a special place in both our hearts.

"Chatting with Vikki was always informative, interesting, intelligent and above all fun," added Coe. "If anything sums up Vikki’s character and love of life it was the courageous way she faced up to and fought her long battle with cancer right through to attending and contributing to our Press and Media annual meeting in December. Her enthusiasm and constant smile will be missed through the worlds of athletics and football."

Marc Ventouillac, chair of the IAAF Press and Media Operations Advisory Group, spoke on behalf of all journalists who knew Orvice.

"All members of the IAAF Press and Media Operations Advisory Group and all journalists who knew Vicky are devastated by this sad news," he said. "She was a great journalist who covered all the main athletics events during her long but too short career. She attended all of our group's meetings, even as recently as December at a time when her strength had been diminished by her illness."

Marathon world record-holder and IAAF Athletes’ Commission member Paula Radcliffe was among the many athletes to pay tribute to Orvice.

“Vikki will be greatly missed,” she said. “She was a true trailblazer for women journalists, and women everywhere. She lived her life with integrity and courage, always thinking of others and treading her own path.”

"She was such a genuinely lovely woman," added 2012 Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill. "I feel really lucky to have spent so much time with her over the years. Lots of great memories and she will be truly missed."