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News09 Aug 2004

Jim Alford 1938 Empire Games gold medallist dies at 90


Jim Alford (GBR) (© Getty Images)

The IAAF regrets to announce that Jim Alford, a legend of Welsh athletics, as well as a key figure in the IAAF’s pioneering Development Strategy in the late 1970s, passed away on Wednesday 4 August at the age of 90.

Jim, who won the Mile title at the Empire Games (later Commonwealth Games) in Sydney in 1938, became the first athlete in a Welsh vest to strike gold in that competition. The Cardiff-born middle distance ace dedicated his life to the sport of athletics.

After a brilliant career, in which he beat world mile record holder Sydney Wooderson and Olympic 1500m champion Jack Lovelock, he became Wales’ first National Coach in 1948. 

In Wales, Jim won 11 Welsh titles in a range of disciplines from the 440 yards to cross country and also did the middle distance double at the 1937 World University Games.

After service with the RAF as a squadron leader during the Second World War, Jim went on to become the first national coach for athletics in Wales, coaching Olympic medalists Ken Jones and Nick Whitehead. He also advised Irish Olympic 1500m champion Ron Delaney and had a huge influence of hundreds of other top-flight careers.

Jim became national coach to Rhodesia and Nyasaland shortly after coaching the Welsh team at the 1958 Commonwealth Games. In 1979, Alford began working with the IAAF and was a key figure in the IAAF Development Programme under the tutelage of Jozsef Sir, and became an expert lecturer on coaches’ education all over the world, a job he continued to do with great energy and passion well into the 1980s.

The cremation ceremony will take place at the: Streatham Crematorium, Rowan Road, Streatham Vale, London SW16 on Monday August 16th 2004 at 12.15 pm.