Walking race legend is remembered

Steying Walking Race

Steying Walking Race

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STEYNING’S walking legend, Norman Read, went on to become an Olympic gold medal winner.

The race walker’s win in the 1953 Steyning Walking Race was recalled this week by reader Norman Figg, because he is trying to trace his own family’s history.

“I am writing my life story and investigating my ancestry,” he explained.

He remembers a photograph, taken when Norman Read won the race, which featured most of his family in the shot.

“Norman Read emigrated to New Zealand and won the 1956 Olympic medal,” he added.

The Olympian’s achievments have been marked with the naming of a Steyning street in his honour.

Reads Walk, in Shooting Field, was officially opened in March, 2008, by relatives of the race walker, who grew up in the town.

Born in 1931, Mr Read, a member of Steyning Athletic Club, emigrated to New Zealand to start a new life in 1953.

The “Pommie-Kiwi” competed for New Zealand in the 1956 summer Olympics, in Melbourne, Australia, where he won the gold medal in the 50k walk – the fourth-ever Olympic gold for the country.

In his book A Steyning Connection, Ian Ivatt wrote of Mr Read: “In brief, he accomplished much that the rest of us would find impossible. He was never disqualified in a walking race, save for one, according to brother Brian, which was his last race, when he had an attack of cramp.”

Mr Read died in 1994, aged 62, after collapsing following a bicycle race.

Members of his family travelled from far and wide for the opening of the road named in his honour.

Son Richard said at the time: “I think he would be rather chuffed with this, to be honest, and quite humbled.

“He was charismatic bloke, a very straightforward person.

“He was passionate about whatever he believed in and was always striving to achieve his goals.”