WEYMOUTH athlete Pete Clarke has won the Services to Athletics award for the south west at the England Athletics Regional Volunteer Awards.

Clarke, 75, president of Weymouth and St Paul’s Harriers Athletics Club, was presented with his accolade at a special awards night, held at Exeter Golf and Country Club, to celebrate and reward volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to athletics and running in the south west. 

This was a double celebration for Clarke after he proved that age is no barrier to competing on the world stage by setting a new world record at the World Icosathlon Championships in Helsinki recently.

Clarke said: “I am honoured to receive such a prestigious award on behalf of all the coaches and volunteers at my club, who work so hard to make our sport happen. 

“Weymouth St Paul’s Athletics Club has been part of my life for 52 years. 

“Coaching, over the years, has given me so much enjoyment, it’s wonderful to see the impact athletics can have on people’s lives.”

During this time, he has coached children, teenagers and adults from eager beginners to trophy-winning champions. 

He has given his time unconditionally, progressing individuals to achieve their goals – whether running marathons, attaining good for age qualifiers, 10ks or completing Parkrun. 

He also supports adjudicating and time keeping at meets, to ensure that children get a chance to participate.

Over the last few years, WSPH has introduced the Couch to 5k course and Clarke has been actively involved with the development of both the course and run leaders to support it. 

He has acted as a mentor to trainees undertaking the Coach in Running Fitness qualification and supports the Dorset Road Runners’ League and collaboration with other local clubs. 

He sets a great example by representing the club, still running 10k to marathons, including more than 20 London marathons.

St Paul’s coaching coordinator Tracy Moore paid tribute to Clarke.

She said: “In the 1980s, Pete – or Speedy as we affectionately called him – was a teacher at my school. 

“He used to give up his lunchtimes, after school and Saturdays to coach and organise the school cross country team. 

“He organised the National Cross Country Championships, held at our school on a number of occasions. 

“One such winner of those championships, was a certain Mo Farah.

“With Speedy’s input, thousands of children have been inspired to have a go at a sport that is not always considered trendy or cool.

“I myself, became a coach at my childhood club in 2010, as my children became interested in the sport that I had loved all those years ago. 

“I think that is one of Pete’s greatest achievements, he has not only increased participation, but he has inspired new coaches, that in turn can inspire new generations.”

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