Controversial race agent Andy Norman dies, aged 64
Rick Broadbent, Athletics Correspondent
Andy Norman, the promoter who oversaw British athletics’ golden era before his controversial exile, died suddenly yesterday at the age of 64 after returning from the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart. The former policeman had been working for the IAAF, the sport’s governing body, as an advertising commissioner in Germany.
Norman cut a swath through the athletics scene of the 1980s, when the sport played to packed stadiums and there was a list of stars who were household names. As a manager-cum-agent, many athletes signed up with Norman, including Steve Ovett, Linford Christie, Jonathan Edwards and Colin Jackson. He later married another, Fatima Whitbread, the javelin thrower, and the pair had a son, Ryan.
Renowned as an astute and skilled operator, his tenure at the top ended under a cloud when it was alleged that he had threatened to spread malicious rumours about Cliff Temple, the Athletics Correspondent of The Sunday Times, if he did not stop an investigation into Whitbread’s business dealings. Temple, who was depressed after the break-up of his marriage, committed suicide in 1994. A coroner said the threats made by Norman contributed to Temple’s death. Three months later, Norman was dismissed from his job as promotions officer at the British Athletics Federation, the predecessor to UK Athletics, although he remained involved in the sport.
In 1998, he bailed out the organisers of the European Championships in Budapest as they struggled to put on the event. Since then he has been running regular meetings in South Africa and Eastern Europe, as well as working for the IAAF. He was still listed as a race agent by UK Athletics and his experience meant that he was used widely by athletes and broadcasters.
Having ruled the roost during the halcyon days, Norman had strong views about where British athletics had gone wrong. “In those days, first was first and second was nowhere,” he said. “Now we are asked to celebrate mediocrity.”
Athletics promoter, administrator and athlete representative, Andy Norman dies
Monday 24 September 2007
Monte-Carlo - It is with sadness that the IAAF has learnt of the sudden and tragic death of Andy Norman.
Andy Norman (GBR) died earlier today (24) having just returned to the UK on a flight from Stuttgart, Germany where over the weekend he had been working as the IAAF Advertising Commissioner at the IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final (22/23).
Andy Norman was the former promotions officer for the British Athletic Federation, the forerunner to UK Athletics, the present IAAF Member Federation for Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Since his departure from the federation in 1994, he had been a meeting promoter in South Africa and Eastern Europe, had worked as an Advertising Commissioner at numerous Grand Prix meetings in the last two decades, and was currently listed as a ‘Race Agent’ by UK Athletics.
A former policeman, Andy Norman, in the role of Athletes’ Representative managed a ‘Who’s Who’ of athletes from the golden era of British Athletics in the 1980s and 1990s: Steve Ovett, Linford Christie, Colin Jackson, Iwan Thomas, Steve Backley, Kelly Holmes, Jonathan Edwards, were just some of his many former clients.
The IAAF offers its sincere condolences and best wishes to his family.
Tuesday September 25, 2007
Andy Norman, once touted as the most powerful man in British athletics, died yesterday as he arrived back in Britain after a weekend working at the world athletics final in Stuttgart.
Norman, 64, who was married to the former javelin world record holder and world champion Fatima Whitbread until the couple split almost three years ago, remained one of the key figures in the sport worldwide.
He had lost any official status in Britain 13 years ago after he was dismissed from his position as the promotions officer at the British Athletic Federation after the coroner implicated him in the suicide of Cliff Temple, the former Sunday Times journalist.
Yet Norman had an important role in the sport both in Europe and South Africa and during his career represented many of Britain’s top athletes including Jonathan Edwards, the triple jump world record holder, and Kelly Holmes, Britain’s double Olympic gold medallist.
Holmes was left stunned when she heard the news last night of the death of Norman who was her first manager back in the early 1990s and was instrumental on setting her on the road to the success which saw her win the 800 metres and 1500m in Athens in 2004.
Holmes said: “I am shocked. Andy has been at the core of British athletics and he played a big part in my career. In terms of racing on the circuit, he started me off as an athlete, he got me into races and I remember in Stockholm one year he said follow that girl - indicating Maria Mutola.”
Holmes and Mutola eventually became training partners and the Briton succeeded the Mozambique star as the Olympic 800m champion.
Holmes added: "I remember the 1994 European Championships in Helsinki, Andy’s told me to follow the Russians. I finished second. He said to me what about first place. A few weeks later I won the Commonwealth 1500m title and said hope that is OK for you.
“Andy worked with so many of our big named athletes, he ran British athletics at one stage. My thoughts are with Fatima and their son [Ryan].”
Norman, a former police officer, had been working at the final European grand prix of the season as advertising commissioner for the International Association of Athletics Federations. He had regularly been a meeting promoter in South Africa and in eastern Europe and was a race agent for a number of Britain’s athletes.
But it was in 1994 that his name became known to the public beyond athletics following the death of Temple. In a highly controversial case Norman lost his position three months after Temple died.
Ricky Simms, the athletes representative for Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu, the 400m world champion among others, was with Norman in Stuttgart at the weekend and he said: "Everyone is shocked by the news. Three or four of us were sitting around talking with him only yesterday and he was not scared to say how he saw it. He was happy that our British girls were running well in the 400m but he was also saying how important it was for the sport to make sure the stadiums were full.
“I have been working on the athletics circuit for eight years and I have learnt many things from Andy he was always there giving me words of wisdom.”
Andy Norman had a massive influence on British athletics through the Golden Years of the late 1970s through to the mid-1990s.
He was a steeplechaser but you’d never have guessed because of the pot belly. But he was the guiding hand in Britain and very much, if you like, the hand that rocked the cradle of the sport there and also in Norway.
Looking for competitive opportunities for young British talent, he pioneered European winter journeys to Australia, NZ and South Africa and he helped the Norwegians build the Oslo meet into one of the greatest annual meets on the global calendar.
Andy was a bit of a rogue, a hard man, but he had an eye for talent like nobody before or since. And beneath a gruf exterior, he had a soft heart for any talented or passionate athlete and often bailed them out of difficulties.
For athletic third-world nationals teams like those of Canada, Australia, South Africa and elsewhere, he was a God-send, often getting their little-known athletes into the correct level meets (for them at the time) and giving them the chance to find form and prove their talent.
He was not one to settle for second best at anything and dealt in favours. He was a very shrewd promoter, match-maker and always had a vision for the sport. He never gave up on you, so long as you never gave up on yourself. If he saw passion, but limited talent, he’d guide you into administration roles and he held administrators accountable. He did not suffer fools, but he was also a bottom-line kind of guy. Win gold and the end justifies the means.
He was a tremendous raconteur, great company when he was in the mood but not easy to get close to.
There was a time in the late 1980s early 90s when the IAAF president Primo Nebiolo would hardly make a move without speaking to Andy first, he had that kind of access, a big-picture view of the sport and an entrepreneurial flare.
But mostly I will remember him for his wicked sense of humour and he uncanny ability to pick talent, stick by it and nurture it until the rest of the world could recognise it. I would include people like Kelly Holmes, Steve Cram, Linford Christie, Colin Jackson, Jonathan Edwards and many others.
His influence diminished after 1993 when he was blamed for the death of Cliff Temple, the finest of all British athletics writers. It suited the British media to pillory Andy because they could never control him and so they themselves terminated the golden era of British athletics, although they could not see it then and would never admit it today.
The dynamic tension between national coach Frank Dick and promotions officer Andy was, in my private view, a powerful force agitating the sport throughout the 1980s. Personally I thought Andy contributed far more with his personal version of a talent identification and development program. He called it like it was and that upset a lot of stuffed shirts, but couldn’t they use his talents now.
Athletics entrepreneur who helped to nurse the sport from amateurism into the professional era
Few men did more to change international and British athletics from an amateur sport, at least at the highest level, to a professional, full-time business than Andy Norman.
A former Metropolitan Police sergeant, he ended his often controversial years in the chief Olympic sport, working as advertising commissioner with the International Athletics Federation.
In a speech at the International Athletics Congress in 1984, Norman called for the setting-up of trust funds for athletes. It carefully avoided going the whole way to direct payment to competitors as that would have been anathema to the countries of the communist bloc which were completely state-aided and amateur only by label.
By the next summer the old flag of amateurism was in tatters, when the payment figures for a women’s 3,000 metres race at Crystal Palace were revealed. The selling point for ITV was a return race between Britain’s South African-born Zola Budd and the American Mary Decker-Slaney, who had been involved in the collision in the Los Angeles Olympic final.
The promoter who oversaw British athletics’ golden era before his controversial exile has died suddenly
John Bromley, of ITV, approached Norman to film the race and received a predictable reply: “You want it? You pay for it.”
Budd, whose presence in a British team vest was always a hotly debated issue, received £90,000 even though she was to finish fourth at Crystal Palace; the winner, Decker-Slaney, got £60,000, both cheques eventually going into the women’s trust funds.
Born in 1943, Andrew John Norman had come to London in 1962 from Suffolk to work for the Metropolitan Police, where he was to serve until 1984. He ran for the Met too, as a reasonable quarter and half-miler. Soon he became manager of the Metropolitan Police athletics team and then started to organise successful open meetings for the Southern Counties AAA at Crystal Palace.
It was a major step-up when, in 1974, Norman directed the International Athletes Club meeting at the Palace. Norman’s success as a promoter owed much to his hard-working, no-nonsense attitude, and these qualities helped him when he became coaching secretary of the Southern Counties. Soon, the no-nonsense Sergeant Norman, renowned for his discipline, though nicknamed The Fat Man behind his back, was siging up such internationals as Steve Ovett, Colin Jackson, Steve Backley and Jonathan Edwards, athletes who found that in Norman they had an agent who could work wonders for them across the world.
Nevertheless, Norman could be impatient and sometimes dictatorial with athletes who had the temerity to argue about their races and their fees. Even Linford Christie, not a man to bend easily, recalled an occasion from 1984: “Andy phoned to say he’d given my lane away that day. ‘Don’t bother to turn up,’ he added.”
Norman was involved in a number of publicly aired controversies connected with athletics. In 1987 in The Times, the hammer-thrower Martin Girvan was quoted as saying that Norman had helped him to avoid a compulsory drugs test by arranging for a urine sample from someone else to be left in a spare cubicle. Other athletes made similar allegations, but Norman always stoutly denied them and nothing was ever proved. A subsequent inquiry was inconclusive, but eventually the Sports Council took over drugs testing from British athletics.
Eventually, in 1994, Norman was dismissed from his position as promotions officer to the British Athletics Federation after a coroner said that untrue allegations made against the athletics writer Cliff Temple were a contributing factor to the journalist’s suicide.
He was principal director for the European Athletics Championships in Budapest in 1998, and is credited with being the prime mover in their success. In 2000 he became a competition development consultant to the IAAF. Norman died shortly after flying to Britain from the World Athletics final at Stuttgart.
Norman married in 1997, as his second wife, the British javelin thrower Fatima Whitbread. They had one son.
Andy Norman, sports marketing consultant, was born on was born on September 21, 1943. He died on September 24, 2007, aged 64