Olympian and Commonwealth 5000m medallist suffers heart attack

The athletics world is in shock following the death of John Nuttall. The 1994 Commonwealth 5000m bronze medallist and 1996 Olympian had a sudden heart attack on Thursday (Nov 9) and has died aged just 56.

“A much-loved dad, son, brother and husband. For those that loved John, our hearts are breaking,” said his wife, Liz McColgan.

“I cannot believe that this day has come so soon and unexpected and that you are no longer with us, my heart is completely broken,” said Hannah Nuttall, the GB international athlete and his daughter from his previous marriage to Alison Wyeth.


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A post shared by Liz Mccolgan (@lizmccolgan)

Nuttall was a talented teenage athlete in the 1980s as a member of Preston Harriers in Lancashire. He won the English Schools senior boys’ 3000m title in Hull in 1985 in 8:10.5 – a championship record that remarkably still stands today.

That same summer he won bronze in the 3000m at the European Under-20 Championships in Cottbus as gold went to Nick O’Brien of Ireland.

After taking a scholarship to study at Iowa State University in the United States, he won the prestigious NCAA cross-country title in 1989 and soon began representing Britain at international level.

He raced in the 5000m at the World Championships in 1993 and 1995 and won bronze at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada just half a second behind winner and England team-mate Rob Denmark and Philemon Hanneck of Zimbabwe.

His peak form came in 1996, though, when he won the English National cross-country crown at Newark before going on to compete at the Atlanta Olympics, where he went out in the semi-finals, as well as winning the AAA 5000m title and ending the year ranked No.1 in the UK at 3000m and 5000m.

John Nuttall (Mark Shearman)

Nuttall ended his career with PBs of 7:36.40 for 3000m and 13:16.70 for 5000m. As well as his track exploits, he ran for Britain in the World Cross Country Championships five times. Being a sub-four-minute miler meant he was well known for having a good sprint finish too.

After hanging up his spikes he turned to coaching and worked as an endurance coach at UK Athletics from 2003-2013. “John was a hugely accomplished endurance athlete … he was a key part of the endurance set up that supported athletes into the 2012 London Olympic Games,” the governing body said in a statement. Later, he moved to Qatar where he became head athletics coach at the Aspire Institute in Doha.

He coached athletes such as Gemma Steel and fellow Preston athlete Helen Clitheroe while passing on his advice and wisdom to his children Hannah and Luke, plus his step-daughter Eilish McColgan.


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A post shared by Hannah Nuttall (@hannah_nuttall)

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