id1532-Charles Sonny Williams (30.11.1930 - 18.8.2013)

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Kingston AC & Polytechnic Harriers are extremely sad to have to announce that Charlie Williams,our many-times World Masters/Veterans Champion,AAA bronze-medalist and Commonwealth Games representative, passed away on Sunday night,August 18th.just 3 months short of his 83rd birthday.


Charlie will be forever remembered by those many who saw him run both in his short Senior International career in the 1950s and,even more so,by those who later witnessed his vast catalogue of triumphs in his second much longer,almost peerless, contribution to our sport as a Veteran/Master.

His silky-smooth flowing,almost effortless style won him countless admirers and took him to International titles the world over as a Veteran – he was,at his fittest,quite simply, Poetry in Motion.

Charlie was born in Trinidad in November 1930 and started out as a footballer,but when he won the 100 yards title in the Island Games ,the National Championships for Trinidad and Tobago,in 1953,he was advised by fellow Trinidadian,McDonald Bailey,himself an Olympic bronze medallist and a member of Polytechnic Harriers,to move to Britain. In a relatively short Senior career,his finest year was 1957 when he was 3rd in the AAA 100y Championships(10.1) but,more significantly,he ran 10.5 over 100 metres in Bordeaux in that July,just behind the then joint World-Record Holder,Dave Syme(USA),as well as 21.6 over 200. These marks still rank him 3rd= and 19th= on the K&P AllTimeLists(q.v.). Charlie regularly competed for Poly and in Business Houses athletics,and was also no mean performer over 440/400,running sub 50 secs in relays – he still holds the K&P Vets record,running 51.8 at Hastings in 1978,not to mention a World M55 record of 53.98 in 1987 in Australia. In 1958,he represented Trinidad and Tobago at the Cardiff Empire and Commonwealth Games,but,sadly,injury cut his athletics short and he retired.

He married Evelyn and they set up home in North West London with their children,Karen and Anthony and he concentrated on his career as an engineer.

That would have been it,had not the rapid expansion of Veteran Athletics worldwide in the 1970s lured him back to the sport. Though he had to manage recurring injury,his star shone ever more brightly from the moment he set foot on the track,soon winning the World Vets M45 100m/200m in Gothenburg in Sweden in a fine 11.2/22.9 double. Year on year,he travelled the world with Evelyn,winning World and European Age Group titles,beating the best there was in the short sprints:


Miyazaki,Japan(1997)…………………….the list goes on.

With my wife,Barbara,I was privileged to travel with Charlie and Evelyn,and his great friends,fellow sprinter,Jack Cross and his wife,Freda,to European & World Championships in the 1980s in Strasbourg,Brighton,Malmo,Verona and Eugene and the international buzz in the hotels and the stadia when it was known Charlie was in action was something to behold! He was a LIVING legend.

Charlie was still making occasional appearances when able to in the last dozen years,and VAC’s Jeremy Hemming recalls with relish his racing as an M80 in the 2011 VAC Championships at Battersea – ‘Ageless’ was his comment.

Charlie never lost his love of Athletics and,in his later years,became a Qualified Senior Timekeeper,officiating mostly in Middlesex but also coming over to Kingston from time to time,notably for the Kinnaird and Sward Trophies,with which he had been associated many times as a competitor when he first was a Poly member at Chiswick. He contributed to Poly and to K&P in many ways - he was elected a Life Member in 1977 and later served a term as President.

Sadly,having beaten off serious illness once,he finally lost his battle on August 18,just 3 months short of his 83rd birthday.

Our thoughts are with Evelyn,Karen and Anthony and their families at this saddest of times.

Valete,Charlie - you have left us such memories.


(With acknowledgements to Brenda Ford(K&P) and to Jeremy Hemming(VAC) for my sourcing of their previous Articles on Charlie. There is also an in-depth Article/Interview,written by leading athletics journalist,Alastair Aitken,on the Highgate Harriers website - link below(you'll need to scroll down a mite) - thanks to Humphrey & Peter Waddington for highlighting that). There is also now an Appreciation of Charlie by Alastair on the same link.


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