Tommy Godwin (cyclist, born 1920)

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Tommy Godwin
Personal information
Full name Thomas Charles Godwin
Born (1920-11-05)5 November 1920
Died 3 November 2012(2012-11-03) (aged 91)[1]
Team information
Discipline Track

Thomas Charles Godwin (5 November 1920 – 3 November 2012)[2][3] was a British track cyclist, active during the 1940s and 1950s. He held national records and raced abroad. He later became a coach, manager and administrator.

In 2010 he was selected as an ambassador for the 2012 London Olympics. In 2012, aged 91, he was selected to take part in the Olympic torch relay, carrying it through Solihull.


Godwin was born in Connecticut, United States to British parents in 1920. The family returned to Britain in 1932.[4] His first bicycle was a Wrenson's delivery bike which he used to run errands for a local grocer.[5] He became interested in cycling because of the Olympic Games in 1936.[6] Arie van Vliet's riding in the 1,000-metre time-trial inspired him; British amateur champion W. W. Maxfield was also an early hero.[7] Godwin began racing three years later and rode the fastest 1,000m of the season at the Alexander Sports Ground. He was invited to trials in the Midlands to find riders for the next Olympics, despite not yet having won a race.[6]

He won a 1,000m at The Butts track in Coventry on 29 July 1939. His chances of Olympic selection ended with the second world war. He envied Reg Harris and Dave Ricketts for being selected for the world championship at a young age, "not that I had any claims to such honours but because their good fortune provided them with expert tuition and decent tracks for training. In the Midlands this all seemed so far away."

Godwin was an apprentice electrician in a reserved occupation during the war, working for BSA. But there was little competitive cycling and he rode at only 13 meetings between 1940 and the end of 1942.

The change in war fortunes meant more sport in Britain from 1943. Godwin was unbeaten in five-mile scratch events and won the Cattlow Trophy at Fallowfield, Manchester, that year and in 1944. In the national championship of 1944, at which Harris made his breakthrough, Godwin won the five-mile. He repeated this success in 1945, adding the 25-mile title which he retained in 1946. In 1949 he won the 4000 metres event.[6] He won the BSA Gold Column, offered by his employers, by winning the five-mile at Herne Hill in south London in 1945.

Post-war competition[edit]

The win at Herne Hill, the first time he had ridden there, "must have impressed, for an invitation to ride in Paris came my way," he said in the British weekly, The Bicycle. "Being the first international test after cessation of hostilities it was indeed a great honour."[6]

Godwin won two bronze medals, in the team pursuit with Robert Geldard, Dave Ricketts and Wilfrid Waters, and the 1,000m time trial at the 1948 Summer Olympic Games in London. Preparation for the pursuit was hampered by an argument among the coaching staff on the eve of the games, but after a poor performance in the qualifying round, they improved their time by 17 seconds during the subsequent three rounds, winning the bronze in a faster time than the French winners of the final.[7]

He came third in the 1,000m at the 1950 British Empire Games.

Career after racing[edit]

Godwin managed the British cycling team at the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, became president of the British Cycling Federation and of the Solihull Cycling Club. He ran the first British training camp in Majorca, Spain,[5] and the first track course at Lilleshall, and founded the Birmingham RCC.[8] He was Britain's first paid national coach[8] and trained a generation of British track riders, many of whom won national and international titles and medals. They included Graham Webb, who beat the British hour record and won the world road race championship, and Mick Bennett, who won bronze medals at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics.[8]

From 1936 to 1950, he worked for BSA. For 36 years from 1950 he ran a cycle shop in Silver Street in the Kings Heath district of Birmingham.[9] His autobiography It Wasn't That Easy: The Tommy Godwin Story was published in 2007 by John Pinkerton Memorial Publishing Fund.[10] He was president of Solihull Cycling Club. His wife, Eileen, died on 5 January 2011.[5]

2012 Summer Olympics[edit]

Godwin was an ambassador for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. On 27 July 2010 he appeared on the BBC One programme "London 2012: Two Years to Go", praising the new velodrome taking shape. He was interviewed by BBC presenter Sophie Raworth and showed his two Olympic bronze medals.

When aged 91 he was selected to participate in the Olympic Torch relay, to carry it on a 300-metre leg through Solihull on 1 July 2012.[11]

Godwin died at the Marie Curie Hospice in Solihull on 3 November 2012.[12]


  1. ^ "Obituary: Tommy Godwin 1920-2012". Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  2. ^ Olympic Games official website
  3. ^ "Tommy Godwin Biography and Olympic Results | Olympics at". 1920-11-05. Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  4. ^ Harris, Nick (24 March 2012). "'I refused to be a plastic Yank': Godwin reveals how Americans tried to poach him for 1948 London Games". Daily Mail. 
  5. ^ a b c "at". Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  6. ^ a b c d The Bicycle, UK, 23 January 1946, p6
  7. ^ a b "Tommy Godwin: Obituary". The Times, p.54. 12 November 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c "Tommy Godwin". Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  9. ^ Tommy Godwin Cycles
  10. ^ Association of British Cycling Coaches - Home Page Archived 1 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Daily Mail, 19 May 2012, Nick Harris - Tommy invests in a £199 torch
  12. ^ Dawes, Mike (3 November 2012). "Double Olympic medallist Godwin passes away". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 

External links[edit]