Mel Watman – a sad loss to the sport of athletics and to everybody who knew him

It is with great sadness that we have to acknowledge the passing of Mel Watman earlier today. To the sport of Athletics he was foremost in reporting our sport from his background as a leading international statistician whose enthusiasm was not dimmed even until the end.  When speaking to him just a few days ago, when his terminal cancer had become more widely known, he commented how lucky he had been to spend his life writing about his track and field heroes and heroines and travelling the world to do so.

The working relationship between Mel and Track & Field Tours was a long and fruitful one with his ranking data part of our recent Tokyo 2020 / 21 Supporters Information guide as it has been over many decades at all major events. The thrill of working with him, “talking track” and assisting him promote some of his more recent books to clients was an extension of reading his reports as a teenage athlete in the old pocket size “AW”: back then seeing your name in the results that Mel curated brought such joy to us novices of the sport. The magazine under Mel’s stewardship was the route into a lifetime love of a sport for so many of us and he was a very major influence – the David Attenborough of Athletics in our time perhaps?

It is hard to believe that chatting to Mel in early August, when he was his usual lively self, will now be just a fond memory of a much valued friendship. Mel leaves his wife Pat who he had cared for so lovingly in recent years whose nieces and nephews will now take up the baton now Mel’s leg has been run.

David Barnett