03/06/2019   Ken Mattews (GBR) Olympic champion in 20km in Tokyo passed away

The following obituary has been penned by Dave Ainsworth (GBR)


So sorry to report our GB's last surviving Olympic race walking Gold medallist (1964 Tokyo 20 Kilometres' Walk) has passed-on. This happened Sunday evening (2nd June) in Wrexham where Ken was a hospital in-patient. Ken was already in a Care Home before entering hospital, suffering from fluid in his lungs, among other things.


Octogenarian Ken in his time was an Olympic Champion, European Champion, many times' National Champion and also many times a Midlands Champion - and a regular supporter of County Championships and Open events all over the County.


At Tokyo his winning margin is still a record in the 20 Kilometres Walk Olympic Walk. As he approached the finish the 2nd man - Dietner Lindner of Germany was entering the Stadium. This Tokyo track was the last time the Olympic Games athletics was held on a cinder track! The 2nd placed man walked for Germany - despite splitting after World War II, East & West Germany united to form a joint Olympic team in the spirt of sport. When the Cold War got going, they sent separate teams from 1968 (Mexico ) onwards until the Berlin Wall came down. Ken clocked and Lindner (both inside the previous Olympic best time).


In 1964 GB produced an athletics "Golden Quartet" of 800 metres runner Ann Packer, 20K walker Ken Matthews and long jumpers Mary Rand & Lynn Davies. In the Queen's Honours' List after these games, 3 were awarded MBEs and one (Ken Matthews) got nothing! It took until 1977, when a public campaign to honour the forgotten one attracted National attention - for Ken to finally "take a walk to the Palace" to get his MBE, 13 years after the others three!


Ken's wife Sheila, who achieved fame at Tokyo by breaking through security to run onto the track and congratulate Ken after he'd passed the finshing line, died some years' earlier. Ken's only immediate family is his son Ian.


In his athletics career Ken was Midlands' based, and a loyal member of Royal Sutton Coldfield Walking Club (a Club now defunct).


In London 2012 Olympic year Ken Matthews was President of the Race Walking Association.





The report of Ken Mattews in the Hall Fame of Marcia dal Mondo: click here 









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