Robbie Brightwell - Great Britain - The U.K.'s leading one-lapper of the early 1960's

Photo/Foto: E. D. Lacey (1922-1976)

Date: 13 July 1962

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      Friday, 27 October 1939
      Rawalpindi, India (now Pakistan)
  • Great Britain

Robbie BRIGHTWELL - Great Britain - The U.K.'s leading one-lapper of the early 1960's

At the age of 20, and in his first season as a 400m/440yds runner, Robbie Brightwell made an impressive Olympic debut at the 1960 Games held in Rome. In the second round he recorded 46.2 sec, breaking John Wrighton's UK 400m record, and in the semi-final two days later, took another 0.1sec off that time to break the record again. The Rome Games was the last time that Olympic sprint fields comprised of only six runners, and in finishing 4th in his semi-final, Brightwell was very unlucky not to make the final. In 1962, Brightwell won the European Championships over 400m at Belgrade in 45.9sec, holding off a strong finish from Germany's Manfred Kinder. Later that year, at Perth, he ran a close second to George Kerr (Jamaica) in the Commonwealth Games 440yds title. At the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, he won his semi-final in the 400m, but finished a disappointing 4th behind Mike Larrabee (USA) in the final. His greatest Olympic performance however, was the anchor leg he ran for Great Britain in the 4 x 400m relay in Tokyo. Brightwell took the baton in 4th position behind the USA, Trinidad-Tobago and Jamaica. He first caught and passed the Jamaican runner (George Kerr) and then right at the tape, Wendell Motley, the Trinidad-Tobago runner who had come second to Larrabee in the individual 400m. The first three teams home, USA, Great Britain and Trinidad-Tobago all broke the existing world record, and Brightwell's split time was a stunning 44.8sec. This was Brightwell's last race as he retired from the track following the Tokyo Games. He later married Ann Packer (Great Britain) who won the 800m, and was second in the 400m at the Tokyo Olympic Games. (Ron Casey)