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Chris Brasher, pacemaker for the first four minute mile, Olympic gold for the steeplechase in 1956, innovative sports journalist, BBC executive, founder of the London Marathon, successful mountain boot designer and sports shoe retailer, environmentalist, latterly race horse owner, and, above all, enthusiast. Brasher’s recent death has revealed even to his friends new facets to a multi-talented man. This included an interest in sports medicine.
Brasher was a member of BASEM and was convinced that the non athlete could benefit from rising to a physical challenge, and founded the London Marathon on that basis. He recruited me as medical director, (provisional on certain conditions which he readily accepted). Brasher encouraged and supported and—when he could—attended the Marathon Medicine conferences I organised in association with the marathon, the biggest being the three day International Conference in 2000, to which he contributed and wrote the introduction to the subsequent book Marathon Medicine.
The involvement of the Greater London Council in the marathon led to the initiative, strongly supported by Chris, of setting up the London Sports Medicine Institute. After two years of negotiations which involved Chris Brasher, Peter Pitt, Emlyn Jones, Mary Glen-Haig, and myself, (who all served on the board of management) I left County Hall with a cheque for £850 000—a grant for five years. The LSMI was the first base for sports medicine in Britain with a library, laboratory, lecture courses, and meeting rooms. Its teaching courses contributed to the Apothecaries setting up their Diploma Exam in sports medicine, the first national examination in sports medicine. In 1992 it was taken over by the Sports Council as the NSMI, and has since moved from its base at Charterhouse Square, London.
Not everything Brasher touched turned to gold, but much did. He certainly had infectious enthusiasm, which would brook no opposition, and he will be greatly missed.
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