Chris Chataway

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameChristopher John "Chris"•Chataway
Used nameChris•Chataway
Born31 January 1931 in Chelsea, England (GBR)
Died19 January 2014 in St. John's Wood, England (GBR)
Measurements175 cm / 69 kg
AffiliationsWalton AC, Walton-on-Thames (GBR)
Title(s)Right Honorable Sir
NOC Great Britain


Chris Chataway was a man of many and varied talents. He first came to prominence as an athlete where his brief five year career in international competition took in 2 Olympic Games, a European Championships and a British Empire Games. Chataway’s major championship debut came at the Helsinki Olympics where he led the field with 150 m to go in the 5000 m final. He eventually finished 5th after stumbling and falling whilst being overtaken by Emil Zatopek. 1954 was Chataway’s greatest year as an athlete. Firstly he was one of the pacemakers when Roger Bannister recorded the first sub-four minute mile, then he excelled in his own right by winning the three miles at the British Empire Games in Vancouver and winning the silver medal over 5000 m at the European Championships ahead of Zatopek but behind future Olympic champion Volodymyr Kuts.

At the end of the season he gained revenge over Kuts in a dramatic 5000 at London’s White City stadium where both men finished inside the existing world record. It was probably for that performance that Chataway was voted Britain’s Sport Personality of the Year for 1954 ahead of Bannister. He went to the 1956 Olympics as one of the medal favourites but, plagued by illness, did not make an impression in the final. This was the final race of his international career although he continued to race occasionally for his club.

By the time of his retirement from serious athletics Chataway had already became a familiar face on British television screens. In 1955 he became the first man to read the news on ITV, Britain’s newly formed first commercial TV station, and then switched to the BBC for a three year stint as a current affairs reporter. He then changed careers to become a member of parliament for the Conservative party but lost his seat in the 1966 general election. After three years out of parliament he was re-elected in 1969 and went on to serve as Minister for Industrial Development in the Edward Heath government from 1972 to 1974. Chataway retired from politics before the 2nd of 1974’s 2 general elections and began a career in business. He served as Managing Director of Orion Bank as well as being active several charities before being appointed as head of the Civil Aviation Authority in 1991. In addition he was President of the Commonwealth Games Council for England for 19 years between 1990 and 2009. Chataway was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 1995.

Personal Best: 5000 – 13:51.6 (1954).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1952 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Chris Chataway
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 5
1956 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Chris Chataway
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 11

Special Notes