While newspaper headlines are still shouting Gold Rush! and the BBC continues to play Spandau Ballet's Gold I thought I would mention one of my sporting heroes.
Lillian Board (1948 – 1970) was a British middle-distance runner and a sporting icon when I was a young man. She won an Olympic silver medal and held several track world records. She was also one of my early inspirational role models.
In the 1968 Mexico Olympics she was narrowly beaten into second place in the final of the 400m by Colette Besson of France.
At the 1969 European Championships, having won gold in the 800m, Lillian ran the anchor leg for the British 400m relay team. Once more she was pitted against Besson and found herself well behind the French girl coming out of the final bend. Nevertheless she didn't give up and crossed the line a whisker ahead of her rival. I have watched the closing stages of that race over and over again on YouTube and every time I see the two girls coming into the final straight I still think there's no way that Lillian can win. If you have time take a look for yourself.
Sadly, just over a year later, Lillian succumbed to a virulent form of cancer and died on Boxing Day 1970, just two weeks after her twenty second birthday.
Every time my goals seem unreachable and I need motivating I think of that black and white footage. I remember watching it over forty years ago and can recall the feeling of amazement as the gap between the two runners closed in dramatic fashion.
Thank you, Lillian.