Athletics and football writer Vikki Orvice loses long battle with cancer

Vikki Orvice, one of Britain’s most experienced and admired athletics writers, has died aged 56 from cancer.

Orvice started covering athletics for the Sun in the 1990s – in addition to making her mark in the male-dominated world of football journalism – and went on to become chair of the British Athletics Writers’ Association (BAWA) from 2003-05 and she was awarded the BAWA inspiration award in 2016 (pictured above).

Only a few months ago she attended the 2018 BAWA awards with husband and fellow journalist Ian Ridley, but Ridley announced on Wednesday (February 6): “My beloved, bright, brilliant wife Vikki Orvice passed away at 5am, able to defy the cancer no longer. I am bereft, empty, but grateful for her life and her love.”

As an athletics writer Orvice used tenacity, charm and a bulging contacts book to break many stories over the years. In addition, she was a champion for female journalists and helped establish the Women in Football organisation, as well as serving as vice-chair of the Football Writers’ Association.

On hearing the sad news, athletes were quick to pay tribute on social media with Jessica Ennis-Hill tweeting: “She was such a genuinely lovely woman. I feel really lucky to have spent so much time with her over the years of my athletics career. Lots of great memories and she will be truly missed. A very sad day. Thinking of you and your family.”

Paula Radcliffe added: “Vikki will be greatly missed. A true trailblazer for women journalists, and women everywhere. Lived her life with integrity and courage, always thinking of others and treading her own path.”

Despite a sports writing career that saw her travel all over the world, Orvice never forgot her Sheffield roots and was proud her in her later years to see Ennis-Hill and Seb Coe – both from her home city – make such an impact at London 2012.

Coe tweeted that Orvice “has been part of my life for 30 years. She believed in London 2012 long before others and drove The Sun support. A cheerleader for women in sport and mentor to athletes and my team to be strong female role models in sport. We owe her so much.”

Darren Campbell, who won the 1998 European 100m title at one of the early international events Orvice reported on, said: “Heartbroken to hear the sad news. Fantastic lady and journalist. My thoughts go out to her loved ones.”

Greg Rutherford said: “Feel incredibly sad to hear of the passing of a brilliant journalist and truly lovely person. One of the best athletics writers we had; always a pleasure to talk to and so very affable. She’s really going to be missed by everyone and my thoughts are with her family.”

Brendan Foster, meanwhile, said: “I’m really sad to hear of Vikki Orvice’s passing. A true pioneer of women in sports journalism and the sport of athletics benefitted hugely from the way she presented it in Britain’s biggest newspaper. A giant of athletics journalism and a lovely Yorkshire lass.”

Fellow journalists also paid tribute with Patrick Collins, one of Britain’s best-known sports writers, saying: “The saddest day. Vikki was bright, vivacious and wonderfully courageous. She had contempt for her cancer and raised enormous sums for her beloved Royal Marsden. She was loved by journalists around the world, and her passing is a bitter loss.”

» For more on the latest athletics news, athletics events coverage and athletics updates, check out the AW homepage and our social media channels on TwitterFacebook and Instagram