Obituary: Graham Everett, athlete and running coach

Born: 20 January, 1934 in Glasgow. Died: 20 January, 2017 in Glasgow, aged 83.

Graham Everett competing in the SAAA Sports mile event at Edinburghs old Meadowbank track

Graham Everett, who has died on his 83rd birthday, was Scotland’s top miler for almost a decade from the mid-1950s onwards, during which time he won the national championship eight times, seven consecutively, and set numerous Scottish records.

In 1958 he won the A.A.A.’s [British] mile title, comfortably outpacing runner up New Zealand’s Murray Halberg, later Olympic 5,000 metres champion in the 1960 Rome Games. He won seven British international vests and was twice unfortunate not to compete in the Olympics, missing the qualifying time for both the 1956 and 1960 Games by 3/10ths of a second each time.

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For a period he looked favourite to be the first Scot to run the fabled four-minute mile but that was to elude him narrowly. Twice awarded the Crabbie Cup for best performance at the Scottish Championships, he also won the Coronation Cup for Scotland’s outstanding athlete of the year. He also excelled over the country and on road.

Running in the colours of his beloved Shettleston Harriers, he won the Scottish cross- country individual title, twice finishing second, and helped his club to three consecutive successes in the team event. He also represented Scotland four times in the world championships. In the prestigious Edinburgh to Glasgow road relay he was a pivotal member of his club team which won the race three times and twice won silver. Once he stopped running competitively he took up golf, whittling his handicap down to scratch.

His running talent first came to the fore when as a pupil at Hutchesons’ Grammar School he finished third in the Scottish Schoolboys’ mile in 1951 despite little training. He was also school swimming champion. After National Service with the Highland Light Infantry between 1952 and 1954 he began competing for Shettleston and training seriously.

Although he won his first Scottish mile in 1955 it was the following year before he came to wider public notice. Running in the Glasgow Police Sports at Ibrox in front of 30,000, he finished third behind the great Czech Jungwirth in what was then the fastest-ever run by a Scot.

Over a series of races he reduced the time, making him a serious candidate for the first Scottish sub four-minute mile but it was not to be. Selected for the 1958 Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff he failed to do himself justice. Running in both the half and mile events he was spiked in his heat in the shorter race and failed to qualify, which led to the same outcome in the mile. He competed throughout Europe but also found time to turn out for his club in domestic events, claiming his final Scottish mile in 1963.

Although he considered himself primarily a track athlete, one of his fondest memories was winning the Scottish cross-country title in 1960 from close rival Alastair Wood, a multiple track and marathon champion. Over a gruelling nine-mile route at Hamilton Racecourse, Everett was later quoted: “We ran stride for stride as if testing each other. I was going to give up on the last hill but made a final effort and heard Wood grunt and knew he had cracked.” Another outstanding run was his Scottish two miles record in 1961, world class at the time.

Born in George Street, Glasgow, he was brought up in Balornock by father, George, a bookmaker and mother Katie. He overcame early bouts of bronchitis to pursue an outstanding athletic career. When living temporarily in Edinburgh he met Hilda Galloway though work and they married in 1963, going on to have two children,Craig and Andrea. Craig is a well-known golf professional, having been Scottish amateur champion in 1990 while Andrea represented Scotland at 10,000 metres at the 1986 Commonwealth Games.

The couple spent their whole married life in the Mount Vernon area in Glasgow, where they brought up their family. Everett worked mostly in airline cargo sales management latterly with KLM.

After stopping competing in 1964, he continued to run recreationally for years and coached athletes at Shettleston, including Carol Sharp, mother of Linsey. Despite poor health his active association with the club endured till fairly recently. He also became a successful golfer, playing off scratch, and reaching the club finals at both Erskine and Crow Wood.

As an athlete he was self- coached although he received some advice from the famous Australian miler John Landy with whom he corresponded regularly and from his friend Derek Ibbotson, the English world mile record-holder.

Hilda, who was a well-known athletics official, commented: “Graham was a very positive and competitive person who dealt very well with his health issues. He was extremely outgoing, friendly and well liked.”

Fellow miler Hugh Barrow recalled: “Graham was one of several trying to be the first Scot to break the four-minute barrier. He was hugely competitive and I remember eyeballs-out training sessions at Westerlands with him and Derek Ibbotson. A real runners’ runner.”

He is survived by his family including grandchildren Maria and Martin.