Written by Bridget Cushen on 2/5/2016
It is with deep regret that we record the death of Keith Whitaker, former BVAF Treasurer, Chairman and President
Keith Whitaker was a well known figure in British Masters athletics. He was one of the early pioneers of the veteran movement and was Treasurer of BVAF for fourteen years, Chairman for eight, and President for five.
His exceptional administrative skills contributed to the organisation of many events, and he was a key member of the Organising Committee for the World Masters T&F Championships in Gateshead in 1999 – an occasion which marked the pinnacle of a long and distinguished athletics career.
His talent was evident from boyhood, when, as a pupil at Bradford Grammar School, he reigned supreme in all distances from the 100 yard sprint to cross country.
Whilst at Manchester University, he represented English Universities for 3 years, and was 2nd in the 400 metres in the World Student Games in Germany in 1953.
Success continued whilst he was doing National Service, where he became the Army 440 yards champion.
During the next two decades he focused on his family and career, running just once or twice a week to keep fit.
It wasn’t until the early 1970’s, when veteran athletics was just starting to become established, that he started to train again in earnest – and that was the start of his immensely successful career as a Veteran athlete. In 1971 he won the British Veterans 400 metres title and in 1973, he set a new world age best whilst winning the US Masters 400 metres in San Diego in 51.1 seconds.
He went on to win numerous European and World Masters medals.
Keith was also a former Chairman and President of his local athletics club, now known as Bradford Airedale, and a regular timekeeper and starter at athletics events: he recently received a certificate from UK athletics congratulating him on 40 years as a qualified official. It was at the club that he met his wife Maureen, herself a talented hurdler who later joined him on the veterans’ athletics circuit for a time. Maureen died in 2009 but he is survived by his two sons, Michael and Ian, and his daughter Lynne who continues to compete as a veteran athlete.