John Mark (athlete)

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John Mark Olympic Torch Bearer, London, 1948

John Mark (16 August 1925 – 8 December 1991) was a British athlete, best known for lighting the Olympic flame at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.


John Mark was educated at Cranleigh School where he excelled at athletics, and won a place to study at the University of Cambridge. Whilst at Cambridge he was a noted athlete and rugby forward, though missed out on achieving his Blue due to injury. He served as President of the Cambridge University Athletic Club.[1]

In 1947 Mark finished fourth in the AAA 440 yards and was selected to represent the United Kingdom in the 400 metres in Paris. He also won two AAA silver medals in the relay.[1]

In late 1947, he was already on the British shortlist for selection for the 400 metres at the forthcoming London Olympics, when his Olympian good looks led to his being chosen to light the Olympic flame at the opening of the games. Thus on 29 July 1948 he carried the heavy Olympic torch on the final leg of its journey into Wembley Stadium and lit the flame in its specially-designed bowl.[1]

Following the Olympics, Mark worked as a GP in a rural practice in Liss in Hampshire until his retirement.[1] He died of a stroke.


  1. ^ a b c d David Thurlow (September 2001). "Who was John Mark?" (PDF). Journal of Olympic History. 
Olympic Games
Preceded by
Fritz Schilgen
Final Summer Olympic Torchbearer
London 1948
Succeeded by
Paavo Nurmi and Hannes Kolehmainen