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Book about Posh and Becks of yesteryear is bound to be a winner

The Chronicle, Thursday, 25th August, 2011. 5

By Chris Young Congleton’s Olympic couple have released an e-book detailing their eventful careers, and hope it will find an audience across the generations.

Robbie and Ann Brightwell (nee Packer) were two of the stars in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

She won a gold medal after winning the 800m and reaking the world record in the process.

He won a silver medal in the relay.

Now they have released their story as a downloadable ook, which has already received rave reviews.

“Robbie Brightwell and his Golden Girl – the Posh and Becks of Yesteryear,” was originally conceived only to be read by the couple’s grandchildren. However Mr Brightwell, (72), realised their story might appeal to a wider audience, as he believes they competed in a revolutionary time for the sports world.

At the 1964 Olympics, many in the British team were amateurs, and it was a time before personal nutritionists and agents, corporate sponsorships and many of the modern trappings of the sporting world today’s Olympians take for granted.

Mr Brightwell also says it was in the 60s that the Olympics truly became a global event, rather than a contest between the US and Europe.

The couple, who live on Moody Street, first met at a sports training camp, and rose through the athletic world together.

At the Tokyo games, Mr Brightwell won silver in the 4x400 metre relay and Mrs Brightwell, now 69, won gold in the 800 metres and silver in the 400 metres.

What makes Ann’s success even more impressive is the fact that before flying to the Tokyo Olympics she had only raced the 800m four times before, making her entry in the race a last minute success story. She left Japan holding an Olympic gold and the world record.

Mr Brightwell said: “Ann suggested it a couple of years ago, a way of putting our story down for the grandchildren. We wanted to give them the idea of what is was like to experience that dramatic feeling of walking the last mile to the Olympic stadium and facing defeat and triumph, something we both experienced.

“When I sat down to write it, I realised we had competed in revolutionary sporting times.

“In the 1960s there were dramatic changes taking place in sports. Amateurism was being eroded, there were increasingly sophisticated training methods and there was the emancipation of women into sports. They were no longer seen as people who should be protected from more gruelling sports. There was also the globalisation of sport — it was no longer seen as a glorified inter varsity match between America and

Europe. Drugs were also making their first appearances.”

Mr Brightwell said that as he went through his memories, he realised the memoirs could be much more substantial, and saw that with Olympic fever gripping the country as London 2012 rapidly approached, the time might be right to tell their story. The book was finished earlier this year, and went on sale for the Amazon Kindle and other I Book sites two weeks ago.

He said the book should appeal to people nostalgic for that sporting era, although it still contains messages for today’s sporting hopefuls.

Since the couple achieved their Olympic glories, they have watched as running became one of the most popular sports in the world, and now thousands of people regularly take part in marathons, half marathons and 10ks that most people would have never even considered half a century ago.

Speaking of his wife, Mr Brightwell added: “She was a pioneer for women — there were young girls seeing Ann compete in this event that was quite a hostile one for women and finish still looking graceful and feminine.”

Mr Brightwell also made some big shake-ups in the athletics world, leading a group of athletes who boycotted interviews with the BBC after the British Amateur Athletics Board pocketed their appearance fees. At the time, athletes had to pay for their own accommodation, and this action led to major headlines across the world.

He said that while they both experienced Olympic glory, the book still details the “bitter disappointment” of only just losing out on a gold medal.

The couple believe the London Olympics will be a great boost for the country, and think their book is an ideal feel-good story in the build-up to these games.

They were both awarded MBEs following in 1965, and are parents to former Manchester City football players Ian and David Brightwell.

The I book costs £5.74 and is available from wharf design

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Mr and Mrs Brightwell’s book not only charts their 1964 Olympics glory, but also the revolution going on in sport at that time. (“Chronicle” photo. 3426a/11).

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