Athletics community shares many memories and messages following the coaching legend’s death
The huge impact George Gandy had on British athletics has been reflected in the many messages shared in tribute by those within the sport following news of the coaching great’s death on Thursday (October 8).
Gandy (pictured above, right) was best known for his work with athletes at Loughborough University and in distance running and student athletics circles, he was nothing short of a legend.
You can read an obituary by AW editor Jason Henderson here.
World Athletics president and two-time Olympic 1500m gold medallist Seb Coe was among those to have been guided by Gandy in the mid-1970s and in a post on Twitter, he wrote: “George Gandy, my Loughborough University coach, was an exceptional person and a world class coach – for both I owe him an inestimable gratitude.
“He has enhanced, and in many cases changed, the lives of so many young people, including mine. We have all suffered a grievous loss.”
Lisa Dobriskey, the 2009 world 1500m silver medallist and 2006 Commonwealth champion, said: “Trying to sum up George in a few words is so hard, I feel like I could write a book! He was the most wonderful man and I’m so grateful to have so many stories and memories to cherish.
“We shared so many highs and lows in athletics. Regardless of the result he always knew what to say, he would always have a way to put things into perspective. I owe him so much and am truly honoured to have had so much of his time. George made time for everyone and he loved athletics. He shaped and influenced my life and countless others far beyond the sport. George was the life and soul of the party and still out early for his Sunday run!”
Olympic 3000m silver medallist Wendy Sly was also among Gandy’s athletes at Loughborough and the now AW MD said: “Sad, sad news today that we lost the wonderful George Gandy. Such a great influence during my time at Loughborough in the late ’70s. Then a marvellous and knowledgeable companion at many cross country and track meets over the years. A great contributor to the success of so many athletes. I’ll miss him dearly.”
Gandy coached Jack Buckner to the European 5000m title in 1986 and the double Olympian said: “The saddest day. Farewell best coach ever, mentor to generations of runners, Guru of Loughborough athletics and lifelong friend.”
David Moorcroft (pictured above, left, with Gandy in 2014), ex-Loughborough student and former world 5000m record-holder, said: “George was a special man – a great coach, educator and friend to generations of athletes, of all levels, at Loughborough and across the country. He will be sadly missed but never, ever forgotten.”
Gandy was well known for being incredibly generous with his time, for all – from Olympians through to recreational runners.
“Such was the way George made time for everyone, I swear it took him longer to describe the New York Marathon course to me than it did for me to actually run it – and he wasn’t even my coach!” wrote GB international John Beattie.
“RIP to a wonderful man who has positively impacted the lives of thousands.”
While European and Commonwealth medallist Jake Wightman wrote: “Really sad news. I was never coached by George, but his famous circuits played a big part in my training during my time at uni. A man who was never short of a story, his legacy at Loughborough will live on forever.”
World Cross, European and Commonwealth medallist Tim Hutchings was also among those to pay tribute and said: “Yet another supremely significant operator in our sport is lost. It goes without saying (almost) that George had a wicked sense of humour, a superbly curious and innovative brain, and bucket-loads of charisma. He was also simply a wonderful guy, as we’ll find out more in coming days.”
Steve Vernon, the international runner-turned coach, said: “I vividly remember sitting down with George during my first week at Loughborough Uni in 1999. I walked out of that meeting 10ft tall feeling I could conquer the world! His stories were magic. An inspiration to so many people and a true icon of the sport.”
In a post on social media, British Athletics said: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of former national endurance coach George Gandy. A coach, who had a significant impact on club, university, national and international athletes across many decades. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and Loughborough Sport at this time.”
While Loughborough University said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of George Gandy, our Head Endurance Coach. George made a huge impact at Loughborough and our thoughts are with his family.”