Born: April 1953
Club: Coventry Godiva, Loughborough University
Coach: John Anderson
The early 1980s were a remarkable time for British distance running, and in 1982, one of the most enduring when a Coventry Godiva ruled the world. The Bislett Games in Oslo remain one of the main events of any athletics summer, but few have been as spectacular for Britain that than of July 7, 1982.
Moorcroft was renowned for having a superb finishing kick but on this balmy evening, he changed tactics and from 800m onwards in the 5000m, he charged away into history.
He won in 13:00.41, breaking the old record of Kenya’s Henry Rono by 5.39 seconds.
Rono was fourth in this race, and Moorcroft’s impact was immense, holding this world record for over three years.
Prior to his glorious achievements in Oslo, Moorcroft had established himself among a generation of fine British distance runners, with distance being the operative word. It did not matter whether it was short, or long, he had an ability to impress, switching his body-clock from 1500m to 5000m in style.
In 1978, he won the 1500m Commonwealth Games title in Edmonton and then three years later triumphed in the 5000m at the European Cup in Zagreb.
Having established the world record in 1982, he then won the 5000m at the Commonwealths in Brisbane before finishing third behind West Germany’s Thomas Wessinghage over the same distance at the European Championships in Prague.
Running through the ages
Moorcroft was a double AAA junior champion in 1971 and after representing Britain as a junior in 1971 and 1972, made his senior international debut in 1973. He showed his strength and versatility early by finishing second to Bernie Ford in the in the National cross-country over Nine miles in 1976 after completely missing the start.
Not only did Moorcroft have speed in abundance, his stamina was overflowing, and there was no greater evidence than here during his early career when he came through to make the podium in what, in those days, was the most important domestic race of the cross country season.
In 1976 made the Olympic 1500m final. It proved to best placing at the Games, because he was ill in Moscow in 1980 and in 1984, injury again struck at the wrong time, when he trailed in last in the 5000m final in Los Angeles.
His final national title came at 3000m in 1989, and in 1993 at the age of 40 he smashed the British veterans record for the mile, running 4:02.53 in Belfast, passing 1500m in a record 3:46.7 en route.
His latter job
In 1993, he was awarded an MBE and by 1999, he received an OBE. In between those years, Moorcroft played a greater role off of the track than he had arguably his time on it.
Once he had retired from running, he had worked in Coventry on youth and sports projects and also on radio and TV for the BBC on athletics, before being appointed chief executive of the British Athletics Federation (BAF) in October 1997.
What lied ahead was a remarkable scenario where within weeks he had to announce that the BAF had entered administration. He revealed he would not have taken the job had he known what the immediate future held; what the long-term future had in store was a remarkable turnaround with Moorcroft as at the helm of the launch of the new federation, UK Athletics (UKA).
In 2006, the sport signed a contract with Norwich Union, its biggest ever sponsor, for £50 million, further confirmation of the way Moorcroft had driven athletics through a storm after he had been confirmed as Chief Executive Officer of UKA in December 1998.
In August 2006, he announced he was stepping down from the position, to allow a fresh person to carry UKA towards the Olympics in London in 2012, having decided he would bow out when the capital won the Games in July 2005.
1975: 4th 1500m World University Games
1976: 7th 1500m Olympics
1978: 1st 1500m Commonwealth Games, 3rd 1500m Europeans
1980: sf 5000m Olympics
1981: 91st World CC, 1st 5000m European Cup
1982: 1st 5000m Commonwealth Games, 3rd 5000m Europeans
1984: 14th 5000m Olympics
UK Internationals: 12 (1973-89)
Won UK 1500m and 5000m 1980, 3000m 1989; AAA 1500m 1978; AAA indoor 1500m 1976; AAA junior 1500m indoors and out 1971.
World 5000m and European 3000m 1982.
1500m 3:33.79 (1982)
5000m 13:00.41 (1982)
800m 1:46.64 (1982), 1000m 2:18.95 (1976), 1M 3:49.34 (1982), 2000m 5:02.89 (1982), 3000m 7:32.79 (1982), 2M 8:16.75 (1982).