Andy Holden - R.I.P. (05/01/2014)

The world of British and Tipton athletics has lost one of its' truly great characters. Andy Holden sadly died over the weekend of 4th & 5th of January 2014.

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He was born on 22nd October 1948. As a young man, in Leyland, he was a member of Preston Harriers A.C. and became the mainstay of many Lancashire cross country teams during his early racing years.

He once said that his simple creed was 'to beat the guy that beat me last week'. Andy dryly noted that the standard in the Lancashire team was so high then, that one almost had to be national class to qualify for it!

He won the National Junior Cross Country Championship in 1969 at Parliament Hill Fields in London ahead of Dave Bedford. He set a UK record for 3000m S/C in 1972 of 8m 26.4s.

Andy was a multiple Great Britain international over the roads, cross country, fells and on the track, both indoor and out, during the 1970's and early 80's. He was one of the rare few who competed as an international at junior, senior and veteran level.

He competed at the Commonwealth Games in 1970, European Championships in 1971 and the Olympics in 1972. He won gold with England teams during the 1970's at the World Cross Country Championships.

He would race over any distance from the humble mile up to ultra distance events such as the 36 Mile Two Bridges Race in Scotland where he set a course record.

A regular racer abroad with excursions to Bermuda (winning their marathon three times), Ireland, America, Belgium, France and across Europe. He represented Tipton Harriers with pride and distinction in many European Club's Cross Country Championships.

He went to University in Birmingham in 1968 where he studied dentistry and represented that academic institution with distinction. He edited the campus newsletter "Redbrick" in 1969-70. He helped establish the annual "Past vs Present" races where his friendly nature and presence inspired many future generations.

He qualified as a dentist and worked at a number of practices around the Birmingham & Black Country area.

An exemplary "team man" who would race his heart out for whatever club/organisation he represented.

He was multiple medal winner in the "classic" harrier events such as the National Road Relays & English Cross Country Championships.

When he joined Tipton Harriers so began a competitive club record that remains to this day. Andy's presence persuaded other top runners, to throw their hat in with the club. It was quoted once that Andy's "commitment to athletics is what earned him an immediate respect,"

He enjoyed his sport and enjoyed the company that it brought. He was a regular at the Manx Easter Athletics Festival on the Isle of Man.

Andy could be found racing anywhere from a lowly Midland Track & Field League Meeting at Tipton up to the international glare of a televised meeting at Crystal Palace.

He simply enjoyed the thrill of running and racing. He had a long career, occasionally interrupted with injury, but enjoyed success well into the veteran ranks during the 1990's.

As was once said of him "He might not have scaled the heights of athletic success in terms of medals and records, he is at least satisfied that he has done his best and just as importantly has had a damn good time doing it." Many have their own special "Holden' moment that will live with them for a long time.

As well as dentistry he established a running shop in Sparkbrook in Birmingham during the early 1980's as the running boom took off. In athletics he also held many administrative and promotional posts at club and area level.

He coached a number of groups of young athletes over the years down at Tipton and many others in the athletics world enjoyed the benefit of his advice, quiet encouragement and example.

Outside athletics he was involved with many charities and good causes and would always help out those less fortunate or those in need. He helped out for many years with the "Crisis At Christmas" organisation providing food and shelter for homeless Midlands's people over the festive period.

Athletics will not see the likes of this great man again - a true legend.

Our thoughts go to his family and many friends.

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Details of the funeral arrangements will be posted here when available.