Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Charlie Williams - Outstanding Master Sprinter

Outstanding Master Sprinter who ran 9.4 for 100yards back in 1953

by Alastair Aitken

CHARLIE WILLIAMS, at 77 years old, has never lost his enthusiasm for running at any stage since he was very young. In fact the incredible thing about it all is that, as a 74 year old he was setting European Masters records (M70-400m 65.89) and then the next year, on 2nd of November, he had an operation for cancer to remove one of his kidneys.The following year (2007) he  set a European M75 400m record with a time of 69.51 in the BMAF Championships in Birmingham and, followed that up with a gold medal  for the M75 100m in the World Masters Championships in Riccione in a time of 13.98.
   He modestly claimed "I have always been a reasonable sprinter' and added 'I just love running. I can't do without it. If I miss it something is wrong'
   Charlie Williams has six European Masters records still on the books, which includes an M45 100m of 11.1 in 1978. He also holds four UK indoor age records. He does point out though ' My main problem has been that I have been injury prone. I have hamstring trouble sometime in the year.'
   In recent times his training and general exercise has been entirely dependant on how he feels at the time. He is out in the Winter doing 10 mile cycle rides one day, having a rest day then does a 2 mile run with a few hills thrown in another day and maybe a swim at another time. In the Summer, as it gets nearer the competition he would do specific speedwork. Maybe a pyramid session once a week or 4x300 another time but taking it easy on other days.
Charlie Williams is a qualified time keeper at track meetings and can be seen at schools and area cross-countries too. He spends time also these days with his wife Evelyn who sometimes makes the teas at meetings, his children that are 45 and 49 and his grand children. He retired from British Telecom when he was 62 having done 28 years with them.

Now for Charlie Williams earlier life before becoming a veteran

   He was born in Trinidad on the 15th of November 1930. He was one of nine children and his Father was a carpenter and builder. They lived in Trinidad in the country, in a house on stilts to improve the circulation of air, as it was very very hot in those days also to deter the poisonous snakes in the area. As a kid he would run 3 miles to get the shopping and then run back with it, as fast as he could so as not to get into trouble for being too long. His Grandmother died when she was 104 and was always kind to Charlie Williams giving him milk and bananas to help him get strong for his running.
Charlie Williams started running in races at his Government School and won races on sports day and in the local villages and areas but did not  give up his football to do his running till he was 15. He would then often go out and run on his own while his friends were playing games.  He later competed for Trinidad against Tobago, Surinam, Barbados and British Guyana and often ran around 9.6/9.8. for 100yards. When he was in British Guyana he met the famous Trinidadian Olympic sprinter who ran for Great Britain,Emmanuel McDonald Bailey, who had retired from ruining and was coaching and in the athletics administration of that country at the time. He saw Charlie Williams win the 100 yards in 9.4 and suggested he go to England. He gave him a letter of introduction to Polytechnic Harriers (Now Kingston & Poly). In 1955 Charlie Williams came over to England to live and was effected by the cold weather for a time. He did his job as a motor mechanic which he was doing back in Trinidad. He did that for a year. He ran in the 1956' AAA' 100 yards Championships and came 3rd in 10.1, just a tenth behind the winner Adrian Box, who fisted the tape in front of him, which made he appear the winner. However, from many photographic angles it also appeared Charlie Williams was the winner.
The judges had given the race to Box but like with Peter Hilldreth, who told me at least a couple of times at the White City, when he thought he had won the sprint hurdles the judges said he was second. After Charlie William's race a headline in a National paper was 'How can the human eye decide!' At that time Mike Agostini and Charlie Williams were Trinidad's top sprinters and Williams thought possibly, that the selection committee for the Olympics may have discarded him after coming only third. That year, however, Charlie Williams went down to Bordeaux after the Olympics, to compete and was only inches behind the winner of the 100m. That runner was Dave Sime, the 1956 Olympic silver medallist who recorded a time of 10.2 that day. Charlie Williams managed to be selected for the Commonwealth 100yards in Cardiff in 1958 but did not make the second round. However there may have been additional factors that did not give him such a good chance to be in top  form.
   After a year as a motor mechanic in England he joined London Transport, whom he stayed with for seven years.He also went to College in the evenings to study electrical engineering, at a time he was working at night. He only used to get 21/2 hours sleep before going into college and then work. In fact at one time his training was running up the escalators in his break time. He still competed a lot when he was with London Transport and of course when he was with British Telecom in events like the London Business Houses. He could run a 48/49 440 so that was useful and he even ran round in 880's in medley relays.
   Charlie Williams comes in here " I have nearly always trained on my own,as far as I can remember and I have never been coached. I run for the fun of it. '.
   He talked about the running for the top athletes these days. "They don't get the same pleasure out of running which we did. They mainly think of winning and not enjoying sport these days. I used to enjoy coming first or second where as now they are running for the money'
   'Regarding the 2012 Olympics being in the UK he remarked " I am not against the Olympics being in England. It is just the amount of money the Olympics is to put on. Most of the countries who recently put on the Olympics are still owing money. The public do not get the benefit of it really. The cost of putting on the games is so high.'
'In 1958 the Commonwealth Games were all in the army barracks in Cardiff so, it did not cost hardly anything to put on the games. We still had good competition and people enjoyed what it was.'
He finished by saying ' When I competed as a senior the value of the prizes that  were given had to be not more than seven guineas but to me anyway I just love running"

Alastair Aitken

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