Excerpt from the short film ‘Our Sporting Greats’ made for Kirklees Museums and Galleries by Chris Squire and Andy Wicks of Impossible Theatre (web link below).
Archive footage courtesy of the BBC.
Derek Ibbotson started his long-distance running career at Leeds Road, with the Longwood Harriers. He went on to win races for the RAF and Combined Services. In 1956 he won a bronze in the 1500 metres at the Melbourne Olympics, but the best was yet to come. Harry Carpenter picks up the story...
Archive film commentary (Harry Carpenter):
Take Derek Ibbotson for example, he drew crowds to athletic meetings all over the country. His great moment, and I'll never forget it, came at the White City in July 1957. That's when he smashed the world mile record of 3 minutes 58 seconds, held by Australia's John Landy.
Ronnie Delany in fourth place. Delany, and his devastating finish, a very dangerous contender. And they're coming up now to the bell.
And it's Jungwirth in front which is where I wanted him, and I'm tucked in nicely. Delany's in fourth place but just behind Levandovski. I decided to go with 300 yards to go because of beating Delany's very, very fast finish. And fortunately he didn't see me go, and I'd got into full stride and he's in fourth place and he's missed the break, so now he's trying to catch up and the speed I was going he had no chance whatsoever.
And as you can see, that's still Jungwirth in second place and Delany's third and he's about 20 yards behind now only with about 70 yards, 80 yards to go. Because we used to finish in the middle of the straight. And there it is, broken the tape, and he's about 25, 30 yards past.
That's Blagrove who had done the pace making for me and I'm just saying thank you very much indeed to them all.
But my plan was to go at 300 yards, 330 yards, and so I stuck to that, but I think now if I'd have realised how slow the third lap was I'd have gone earlier because the way I finished I could have run another 50 yards.