Harold Whitlock

Harold Whitlock

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Harold Whitlock
Nationality Great Britain
PR 50K Walk – 4:30:38.0 (1936)
Born December 16, 1903 at Hendon, Greater London, England, Great Britain
Died December 27, 1985 at Wicklewood, Norfolk, England, Great Britain
Club Metropolitan Walking Club

Hector Harold Whitlock (1903 – 1985) was a British racewalker who competed mainly in the 50 kilometre walk.

After finishing second in the RWA 50 km. championship in 1931, Harold Whitlock won the title in 1933. He was champion again in 1935 and with victories in each of the next four years up to the outbreak of war, he won a total of six championships. Whitlock traded wins with Thomas Green, the 1932 Olympic champion, in many of the classic road race of the thirties but because he was ten years younger than Green, Whitlock inevitably got the upper hand as the years passed. In 1934, he won the first of four successive London-to-Brighton races and in 1935 he became the first man to complete the course in under eight hours. His winning time of 4:30:38 in the 1936 RWA 50km championship ultimately proved to be the fastest of his career and established him as one of the favorites for the Olympic title.

Photo by Tim Watt
Race Walking Record

He competed for Great Britain in the 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin, Germany in the 50 km walk where he won the gold medal, his time was 4 hours 30 minutes 42 seconds. Along with gold medals, the champions of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin were each presented with an oak sapling by Adolf Hitler. Whitlock planted his sapling in front of Hendon School, his old school north of London. It grew there into a 50 ft tree nicknamed the "Hitler Oak." It was cut down in 2007.[1]

Whitlock then won the 1938 European title in Paris. In the immediate post-war years, he only competed intermittently, but his younger brother Rex Whitlock was selected for the 1948 Olympics. In 1952, Harold made a serious comeback and after finishing third in the RWA 50 km. he made a second Olympic appearance in 1952 at Helsinki, aged 48 years 218 days; which was the record of being Britain’s oldest ever international athlete. (In 1991, his star pupil Don Thompson broke that record at the age of 58.) In Helsinki, he finished 11th, a creditable performance in a field of 31, but his brother Rex finished ahead of him in fourth place.

Whitlock worked as a motor mechanic and as he had a special aptitude for tuning racing cars he was often called upon to assist with record attempts at the old Brooklands circuit. A highly respected coach and judge in his later years, he officiated at the 1960 Olympics in Rome when Thompson, won the gold medal. In 1966, Whitlock was awarded the MBE for his services to the sport.

External links


  1. Radford, Peter; David Smith. "Hitler's Olympic oak gift to Briton axed", The Observer, Aug 19, 2007. Retrieved on 2009-05-13.