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A Tribute to Mike Strange - A great coach and an even better man

Thank you to Chris Elson for providing the words to this tribute to Mike Strange.


Mike Strange - A Tribute

With the passing of Mike Strange in the early evening of Saturday March 9th the club lost one of its truly great legends, to whom it owes an enormous debt of gratitude.

 

It seems that an era of those greats is drawing to a close with Mike’s contemporaries such as Jon Gingell, Bob Lavies and Ken Holmes all in their eighties. 

Steve Grant put it in words I cannot better.

 

I saw Mike twice over the last week and he was the same charming, intelligent, witty and caring man he always has been and the world is a sadder place for his absence”. 


All who knew Mike will subscribe to the sentiment expressed above. 


Indeed, social media is awash with tributes flourishing like flowers from the fruitful earth.

 

Try these:


“Top man, inspirational"
"I remember Mike with great fondness"
"A massive loss to athletics, his energy and commitment was epic, but more importantly a genuinely honest and decent man"
"Mike was a kind and caring man with a passion for athletics who gave his time freely"
"Very sad, remember Tuesday track nights at Whitchurch when I was a kid, What a top bloke he was
"Mike was a wonderful servant to athletics and a true gentleman, RIP, Mike will be greatly missed by all not just from the Time Keepers stand but by officials from all disciplines as he was a great character and a pleasure to be around”.

 

I can imagine Mike somewhere, with a wry smile on his face saying, annoying, I only missed these tributes by a few days.

  

Mike was born on the 25th September 1943. He was a first class 400m Hurdler, racing against top athletes, including David Hemery who won gold at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. 


He was coached at West London Stadium by Ron Roddan, from whom he learned many of his coaching skills (Ron coached Linford Christie to Olympic 100m gold at the Barcelona Games in 1992). 


Mike moved to Bristol from Buckinghamshire in 1968 and competed for Bristol AC for many years. He took over coaching in 1972 following the sudden death of the then hurdles coach, Laurence Hurley, and eventually became a level 3 coach. There were brief spells of absence when his career took him around the world.


 In 1986 he became sprint coach and hurdles coach when the club was based at Whitchurch track, and he worked with several groups of athletes, including some of those who are now coaching at Whitehall.

 

Mike was instrumental in the setting up and participation of the club in the Midland League.

 

That was where I, as the team manager at the time, began to appreciate his qualities. If you wanted some sound, perceptive advice, ask Mike. Whenever there was a problem Mike seemed to be there at just the right moment to help. Chaos sorting the relay teams out, Mike would be busy, taking time off from time keeping, pointing people in the right direction.

 

In later years when Mike and I were in conference, onlookers tended to gravitate around forming a small crowd. This was partly to watch the fun and to help us out.

 

With both of us getting increasingly deaf we took it in turns to get hold of the wrong end of the stick because neither of us could pick up what the other was saying. Thankfully the onlookers helped us out by interpreting what we were saying. 


Mike was a Primary official for Avon and a Secondary official for Welsh Athletics. The Welsh Athletics website records that “Mike made many trips with his wife Carol (Level 3 Track judge) across the border to help at our championships, Schools, Cardiff Met and League meetings”.

 

Carol too was present as a track judge at our Midland, UK women’s athletic league and National League meets and she, like Mike, was a never failing source of support.


Mike held numerous administrative positions in Bristol & West AC including the taxing one of membership secretary, where I was privileged to help him with Athletics registration. He well understood the need to register athletes at the drop of a hat before some important event! Some things don’t change. 


He was also, for a time, secretary of the Avon Athletics Association. Additionally, Mike held a meticulous library of the club records and the club rankings each year. These included both indoor and outdoor performances from 100m to the heavy throws. 


I can confirm that they were invaluable for a team manager.


In recent years he concentrated his attention on hurdles coaching with some notable successes. Among those was Jodie Hallett who was fourth in the English Schools Champs on two occasions at 300mH and 400mH, and Yannick Budd who went on to compete in the Diamond League after finishing fourth in the UK Champs. 


Our thoughts go out along with our condolences to Carol, and to Mike & Carol’s daughter, Fiona, and son, David, along with their families. 


Although we mourn the loss of Mike surely we can take comfort from the many golden memories Mike has left us.


To paraphrase a well known Scottish ballad: When will we see his likes again?




Mikes Funeral

The Funeral of Michael (Mike) Strange will take place on


Thursday 4th April at 2pm at Westerleigh Crematorium (BS37 8QP)

(for those coming from a distance there is a café on site)


Followed by a celebration in the Clubhouse at Yate Athletic Track 

(situated behind Brimsham Green School BS37 7LB)


No Flowers please, just lots of memories and laughs


For those that cannot make the funeral there will be a link available which will be available for 28 days. 


Just contact us with your details.

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