Obituary: Martin Hyman, long-distance runner who participated in the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960
Death: April 3, 2021.
MARTIN Hyman, who died at the age of 87, was a successful long distance runner who in the 1950s and 1960s competed at the world level on track, road and across the country, excelling in all disciplines. with its distinctive style.
From 1979 he lived in Scotland, where he made a huge contribution as an inspiring coach, mentor and administrator.
Highlights of the Southampton-born athlete’s career include the two-time representation of England at the Commonwealth Games and Britain at the 1960 Rome Olympics and the European Championships in Athletics. In addition, he regularly raced for Great Britain in international matches, as captain of the men’s team in the early 1960s, and was a multiple medalist at the British Championships.
On the road, he has had many successes including the Jean Bouin event in Barcelona and the New Year’s Eve event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he defeated Olympic marathon champion Abebe Bikila in record time.
Nationwide, his notable achievements include third place at the Nantes International Championships in 1961 and being part of the Portsmouth squad which won the England national title three times in the 1960s.
Martin was born in Southampton in 1933, the second child of Edward, a union official, and Eleanor née Handley. Along with his older sister, Eleanor, and brother Richard, he was first raised in the city before the family moved to Jersey for his father’s job. Staying on the island after the war broke out was perilous, for Edward came from a Jewish family; shortly before the German invasion in 1940, they fled to Southampton.
As refugees, their lives were difficult, with Martin attending many schools until he got a place at the University of Southampton, where a growing interest in running developed. His determination made up for his lack of natural abilities when he started competing for the varsity cross country team, the start of a lifelong involvement.
Another pivotal event was his decision to join Portsmouth AC where he met a close friend and great international racer, Bruce Tulloh, with whom he trained regularly and formed a mutually beneficial coaching relationship.
Martin had to undertake national service and, as a conscientious objector, did so with The Friends’ Ambulance Unit in London and Austria. While living in an inn in London, he met his future wife, Margaret Veal, a secretarial student from Sussex. They married in August 1958 and lived together 62 happy years during which they had two sons, Michael and Patrick.
In athletics, 1958 was the year of his breakthrough: he won the national universities cross country title and made his international track debut for England six miles away at the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff that year- there, ranking an excellent fourth. A lack of finishing speed let him down as he was well in the accounts until the final stages.
Martin also made his British debut that year, winning the 10,000m against France in Paris.
In 1960, he was selected for this event at the Olympic Games in Rome where he finished ninth, a disappointment cushioned by a personal best although he was very critical of the officials who had only allowed three days of acclimatization. in the stifling heat of Rome. Shortly after, he was appointed president of the International Athletes’ Club to promote the interests of athletes with officiality.
In 1961 he set a national record at six miles, and a year later he finished fifth at the Commonwealth Games in Perth at six miles, and fourth in the 10,000m at the European Championships in Belgrade, his lack of particularly maddening finishing speed as he narrowly missed out on the medals.
Although he did not compete in other international championships, he continued to run successfully throughout the 1960s in all disciplines.
He was a professor of biology by profession and in 1979 was persuaded by a colleague from Swindon, who had been appointed principal of Inveralmond High School in Livingston, to join him there. A highly regarded teacher, Martin retired as deputy principal in 1993 and remained in the city.
During his time here he was heavily involved in the running scene, initially with the local Livingston Club and from around 2000 with the Lothian Running Club, which he helped establish. Martin’s involvement covered all aspects, which was recognized by his being an Honorary Life Member of Scottish Athletics.
He continued to run competitively at the masters level, including cross country and hill climb. He has coached and encouraged young athletes in particular, regardless of their ability level, and has designed cross country, road and hill climb courses.
Chairman of the Hill Running Commission and a pioneer in orienteering, he instituted regular weekly training sessions at Edinburgh’s Meadows, which expanded to include runners of all skill levels. With Martin at the helm, these sessions became legendary and continued for many years.
His approach to training was athlete-centered in terms of advising on training programs and encouraging the athlete to take responsibility for their own development.
He was a firm believer in the broader benefits of participation for young people. Driven by the desire to give something back to sport, he sometimes paid for running shoes for those who couldn’t afford them. The many warm tributes received by his family bear witness to his success.
Apart from family and running, he enjoyed the great outdoors and chess. He supported CND and was a longtime Southampton FC fan
A committed socialist, he was a human and understanding person who always sought the best in people and inspired many to improve. He is survived by his wife, sons and brother.