The British distance running great is recognised for services to international and national sport and culture in North East England

Brendan Foster has been knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

The British distance running great, who founded the Great North Run in 1981, has been recognised for services to international and national sport and culture in North East England.

The honour comes fifty years after Foster first met the Queen, with the 72-year-old having told AW this summer how his successful debut international performance, which saw him receive his Commonwealth 1500m bronze from Her Majesty in Edinburgh (pictured), proved pivotal in his career.

“For British athletics it wasn’t a significant performance but, for me, it was the one that propelled me on to doing other things,” he said. “The Queen presented me with my medal and that was a highlight, obviously.”

READ MORE: How Edinburgh 1970 proved pivotal in Brendan Foster’s career

Foster went on to claim an Olympic 10,000m medal, win European and Commonwealth titles and break world records before creating the Great North Run and becoming a long-serving BBC commentator.

The Great Run Company now organises many events across the UK, with its flagship race, held between Newcastle and South Shields, having been set to celebrate its 40th edition in 2020 before coronavirus caused its cancellation.

A record 60,000 participants were due to take part in the landmark staging on September 13.

Foster, who was born in Hebburn in 1948, joined Gateshead Harriers at the age of 15 and so began his highly successful career within the sport, including achievements both on and off the track.

He was awarded an MBE in the 1970s before receiving his CBE in 2008.

“It is a real privilege to receive this honour,” Foster said.

“Fifty years ago the Queen presented me with my first athletics medal at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games. Since then I‘ve been lucky enough to spend my whole life doing something that I’ve loved from childhood: participating, sharing my enthusiasm through broadcasting and for the last forty years encouraging thousands to run for pleasure.

“The North East has always been my home and at the heart of what I do. The overwhelming public support for the Great North Run has made it the flagship event for the region, which is something I’m very proud of.

“I have to recognise with thanks the significant contribution of lots of others in the awarding of this honour. It really has been my privilege to work with all those individuals and organisations who’ve shared the journey.”

Also among those recognised in the latest Queen’s Birthday Honours list are Scottish Athletics chair Ian Beattie, who received an MBE for services to athletics, and World Athletics’ executive director for communications Jackie Brock-Doyle, who has been honoured with a CBE for services to sport.

Former international athlete and coach Mike Whittingham, now director of high performance at the Scottish Institute of Sport, receives an OBE for services to sport, while Nairn Road Runners coach Gordon Main and Oxfordshire’s Jill Slatter both gain BEMs.

Ian Beattie (in red vest). Photo by Bobby Gavin

Involved with the sport for over 35 years, Beattie has held a Scottish Athletics leadership role for eight of those and the governing body’s chief executive Mark Munro said: “I think the Queen’s Honour for Ian is great recognition for all his efforts within athletics in Scotland, Scottish Athletics, the wider sport and physical activity agenda and within mental health.

“Most people will be aware that he has been involved within athletics for over 35 years. He is a competitor, a coach, an event organiser and chair of the board of Scottish Athletics.

“Since Ian was appointed as chair in 2012, he has brought great knowledge and stability to the sport. It has certainly been a great period for the sport at all levels and his efforts have been justifiably recognised at the highest level.”

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