Tribute to former Olympic sprinter Malcolm Yardley, who has passed away aged 79

A former Olympian who then became a prominent businessman in Burnley has died.

Malcolm Yardley
Malcolm Yardley

Malcolm Yardley passed away this week, aged 79, after a short illness.

Born in 1940 in Oldham, Malcolm grew up in Leicester where he was quickly noted for his sporting prowess.

Hide Ad

He represented his county at schoolboy level in rugby, football and cricket but his real talent lay in athletics.

GB athletes Barry Jackson hands over to Malcolm Yardley in the 4x400m

He became an international athlete and competed for Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1959 to 1970.

The greatest moment of his career arrived when he appeared at the Rome Olympics in 1960 at the age of 19. He ran the lead-off leg in the 4x400m final as GB missed out on a medal, finishing in fifth spot.

Hide Ad

The following year the GB 400m quartet of Malcolm, Adrian Metcalf, Barry Jackson and Robbie Brightwell were ranked No.1 in the world.

Malcolm also took part in the individual 400m event in Rome, reaching the quarter-final round.

Hide Ad
The 4x400m GB relay team of Adrian Metcalf, Malcolm Yardley, Barry Jackson and Robbie Brightwell at the White City in 1961

Unfortunately, injuries would rob the sprinter of further Olympic appearances, missing out at Tokyo in 1964 and Mexico City four years later.

Hide Ad

A member of the renowned Birchfield Harriers AC, Malcolm joined Blackburn Harriers when he moved to Burnley with his mum and dad.

After overcoming injuries, Malcolm rediscovered some form and went on to compete at the Commonwealth Games in 1970 in Edinburgh.

Hide Ad

As his competitive athletics career came to a close, Malcolm became very active on the local sporting scene and was heavily involved at Belvedere Sports Club and Lowerhouse Cricket Club, designing training programmes for their members.

He also worked at Burnley FC under a host of managers from the late 1960s to the early 1990s and also spent time working at Rochdale, Bury and Blackpool.

Hide Ad

In 1967, he set up a sports shop, initially in Burnley Road, Padiham, but later moved to Hall Street, in Burnley Town Centre, opposite Electron Records.

His son Stephen said: “Many players from Burnley used to come into his shop. I fondly remember meeting Martin Dobson, Frank Casper, Billy Hamilton, Alan

Hide Ad

Stevenson and Trevor Steven to name just a few.

“I have posted a little tribute to him on Facebook and quite a few old athletes have posted comments, including Mary Rand.

Hide Ad

“None of these names will mean anything to today’s generation but they were at the top of their game in the 1960s.

“They were all amateurs and ran for the love of it! The Great Britain Team were a close family and all still remain friends.”

Hide Ad

Remarkably, Malcolm still retains the 100m,200m and 400m senior men’s records at Blackburn Harriers, which have stood for 50 years.

“He was a wonderful athlete who gave so much not only to athletics but also to football, rugby and cricket," said Stephen.

Hide Ad

As well as son Stephen, he leaves wife Margaret and granddaughter Ava.

His funeral will be held at Burnley Crematorium at 1pm on Thursday, March 26.

Hide Ad

A celebration of his life will be held later in the year.