FROM BBC SPORT
After almost 40 years as one of Britain’s most popular sports commentators and analysts, Brendan Foster has announced he is to end his distinguished BBC career following the World Athletics Championships in London.
Following a career as one of Britain’s greatest track athletes Brendan quickly established himself as one of the most popular, athletics voices on TV. Brendan will now step down in August after working for BBC Sport on nine summer Olympic Games, every Commonwealth Games since 1982 and every World Athletics Championships since its debut back in 1983. He’s been ever present at the London Marathon since its inception in 1981 but his co-commentary at The Mall on Sunday, April 23, will be his 37th and last.
To mark his outstanding contribution to the London Marathon, Brendan has also been chosen as the 2017 recipient of the John Disley London Marathon Lifetime Achievement Award. HRH Prince Harry, Patron of the London Marathon Charitable Trust, will present Brendan with the award following the race on Sunday.
Brendan said: ‘’I have loved every minute of my time working for BBC Sport. It has genuinely been a privilege and I am very lucky to have done what I have done since my competitive career finished.
‘’My very first commentary was shortly after the 1980 Olympics at a Cross Country event at Gateshead and that’s when I started to work with the greatest sports broadcaster of all time David Coleman. David was just so professional and diligent and he taught me so much – from what to say and how to say it – and he also taught me that if you want to be a good commentator or analyst, you have to be prepared and do your research and work hard.
‘After David retired, Steve Cram took over and working with ‘Crammy’ for almost 20 years has been so special too. It may be because of our North East roots we developed a chemistry on air that worked so well. We have had so many special days, and those recently with Sir Mo Farah winning golds galore, particularly at the Olympic Games, are commentaries that stick out in the memory as we have witnessed true greatness. Mo’s achievements are unlikely to be beaten by any British athlete in history.
‘’I have commentated on some great races, run by some of the very best athletes of all time Seb Coe, Steve Cram, Paula Radcliffe, Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele, David Rudisha and of course Mo. I have been lucky. It’s also been an honour to work with so many great people who have been a part of the BBC Athletics team – both in front of and behind the camera. I’ve made many friends and had so many great experiences along the way and I will miss it very much.
‘This year is like a bookend for me. As an athlete 40 years ago I went to the Montreal Olympics aiming for a double-double in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres and I was beaten in both races by the great Lasse Viren of Finland. This year, the greatest British athlete of all time, Sir Mo ,will attempt his last double-double and it will be on the track in London where he famously won his Olympic golds. So for me as an athlete and a commentator it just seems the right time and the right place at a world championships in the United Kingdom to say thank you and goodbye.’’
Barbara Slater, BBC Director of Sport said ‘’Brendan’s knowledge, instinct, tone, timing and skill have been wonderful to listen to and he has given all of us so many great moments. His words and iconic commentaries will be heard for years to come. All of us at BBC Sport will miss Brendan and wish him all the very best for the future.’’
Brendan – affectionately known as ‘Big Bren’ – won many major medals as an athlete in the 1970s where he became a European and Commonwealth champion over 5,000 and 10,000 metres – and he also won an Olympic 10,000m bronze medal at the Montreal Olympics of 1976. Two years earlier in 1974, Brendan broke the 3,000m world record on his home track at Gateshead and also became the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year. In 1973, he broke the two miles world record and in his decorated track career, overall, Brendan competed at three summer Olympic Games – 1972, 1976 and 1980.
In 1981, Brendan founded the Great North Run – the Worlds biggest half marathon. Over a million people have now taken part in the race – the first IAAF event to pass this milestone.
Brendan was made an MBE in 1976, appointed CBE in 2008 and in December 2016, was given the Freedom of the City of Newcastle – it’s highest honour. He is still chairman of Nova International who organise the Great North Run and many similar events around the country.