On Saturday March 3, 2018 we lost a sporting legend. But more than that, we lost a man who made his life count; a man who made significant inroads in the field of neurology; and, a man who took great pride in family.
As chairman of the Sports Council in the UK between 1971 and 1974, Sir Roger developed the first test for anabolic steroids.
In his words, “None of my athletics was the greatest achievement,” he said. “My medical work has been my achievement and my family with 14 grandchildren. Those are real achievements.”
I first met Sir Roger in August of 1993. He and John Landy of Australia both came to Vancouver that summer to sign limited edition prints to commemorate their historical Miracle Mile run at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games that were held in Vancouver. The prints were released to the public the following summer at the 1994 Games hosted in Victoria with partial proceeds going to support the athletes participating in those Games.
Sir Roger and I would meet again for the opening of the 1994 Games attending a number of luncheons and events together.
However, what I will never forget is two personal discussions I had with him. The first came in 1993 during a signing session. My two daughters, Cathy (aged 12 at the time) and Alana (aged 10), assisted with the signings. When Sir Roger found out that Alana was deaf, he pulled me aside and, for about a half an hour, he quizzed me on her condition, asking about genetic background, how her deafness was discovered and how we, as a family, were coping with her situation and supporting her. He was genuinely interested.
In our subsequent meeting a year later, he opened up the conversation with, “How’s your daughter Alana doing?” I was both stunned and grateful.
They say in life we will experience some things that we will never forget. My meetings with Sir Roger fall into that category … truly great moments in time.