Sando winning the International Cross Country Championship in Belgium, 1957
Frank Dennis Sando (14 March 1931 – 13 October 2012) was a British World Cross-Country Champion. Sando won the International Cross-Country Championship in 1955 and 1957 and represented Great Britain in two consecutive Summer Olympic Games.
Sando was born on 31 March 1931 in Maidstone, to Ernest and Maria Sando. Attending Maidstone Grammar School, Sando first began his involvement in athletics at sixteen, breaking the school mile record. Simultaneously, he began an amateur career at Maidstone Harriers, winning the Kent County Junior Cross-Country Championship in 1948 and the Kent Youth Cross-Country Championship in 1949. He finished fourth in the English Youth Cross-Country Championship in 1948 and 1949.
Having left school, Sando undertook National Service in October 1949, joining the army. In 1951, he broke the Army 3-mile record which had stood for 23 years, having previously that year won the Inter-Services Cross-Country Championship.
Leaving the army in 1951, he began working for the Reed Paper Group in Aylesford, Kent, where he met his future wife Sybil Page. After resigning from Maidstone Harriers, Sando joined the Paper Group's athletics club, juggling work, professional examinations, family commitments and his athletic career. It was at this time that he gained the nickname: the "Maidstone Mudlark".
The following year, 1952, he finished 5th in the National Cross-Country Championships and 9th in the International Cross-Country Championships. Over the next eight years Sando maintained a record of finishing in the top eight positions in the International Championships, as well as an extended period of captaincy of the British team over seven years. In 1952 he was called up to represent Great Britain at the Helsinki Olympic Games, in the 10 000m. It was in this event that he famously lost a shoe early in the race but, continuing on with one bare foot, he still managed to finish in fifth position.
In 1954 Sando ran in the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, where he finished 2nd in the six miles to Peter Driver and 3rd in the three miles to Chris Chataway. Later in that year he finished 3rd in the 10 000m in the European Athletics Championships in Berne, Switzerland – which was won by Emil Zatopek. He married Sybil Page in September of the same year.
Sando went on to win the International Cross-Country Championships in San Sebastien, Spain in 1955. In 1956, after returning from injury, he finished 2nd in the International Cross-Country Championships. Running well in the domestic track season of 1956, Sando was selected to represent Great Britain in the 10 000m in the Olympics of that year, where he finished in 10th position. He later described this as the greatest disappointment of his athletic career, and it was the final time he represented his country on the track. In 1957 Sando won the National Cross-Country Championship at Parliament Hill Fields and the International Championships.
The International Championships of 1958 resulted in a 3rd place finish for Sando and, in the two consecutive years, he finished 2nd and 8th in the same competition. However, in 1961 he failed to qualify for the national cross-country team. He subsequently decided to retire from serious athletics to concentrate on family commitments and further study, bringing to an end a long sporting career at the top of world athletics.
After retiring from athletics, Sando studied at Birkbeck College and graduated with a degree in Statistics in 1964. The following year he resigned from the Reeds Paper Group and joined the Civil Service. He retired from the Civil Service in 1991 as Chief Statistician.
Sando continued his involvement with athletics in an organisational capacity into his later years, having been President of Kent County Athletics Association in 1980 and 2003, as well as various other administrative roles within the county organisation. Subsequent to his presidency of KCAA, he continued to be involved in organising grass roots cross-country events. From 2007–2008, Sando served as President of the Old Maidstonian Society.
Family and personal life
Sando was married to Sybil and the couple have two children – Lorraine and Andrew – and two grandchildren, Benjamin and Toby Abbott (who both attended Maidstone Grammar School like their grandfather). Until his death in October 2012, Frank continued to live in Aylesford, Kent with his wife – within sight of the Aylesford Paper Mill training ground where his athletic career first began.
- "Frank Sando". Racingpast.ca. Retrieved 19 October 2012.