Harold Whitlock

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Other
Full nameHector Harold•Whitlock
Used nameHarold•Whitlock
Born16 December 1903 in Hendon, England (GBR)
Died27 December 1985 in Wicklewood, England (GBR)
AffiliationsMetropolitan WC, London (GBR)
NOC Great Britain
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1


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 Tommy Green, the 1932 Olympic champion, in many of the classic road race of the thirties but as he was ten years Green’s junior, 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.

Like the other British walkers in Berlin, Whitlock suffered from a severe bout of sickness during the race but he overcame the handicap and retained the Olympic title for Britain by a comfortable margin. Two years later, he completed a magnificent double by winning the 1938 European title in Paris. In the immediate post-war years, he only competed intermittently, but his younger brother Rex upheld the family tradition with his selection 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 Helsinki, aged 48 years 218 days; he still holds the record of being Britain’s oldest ever international athlete. In Helsinki, he finished 11th, a creditable performance in a field of 31, but his brother Rex Whitlock did even better, finishing fourth.

Harold Whitlock, a tall stylish walker who was a member of the Metropolitan Walking Club, 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 his star pupil, Don Thompson, won the gold medal. In 1966, Whitlock was awarded the MBE for his services to the sport.

Personal Best: 50kmW – 4-30:38.0 (1936).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1936 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Harold Whitlock
50 kilometres Race Walk, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1952 Summer Olympics Athletics GBR Harold Whitlock
50 kilometres Race Walk, Men (Olympic) 11

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1952 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony GBR Harold Whitlock

Olympic family relations

Special Notes