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16 October 2014

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Athletics

Arthur Robertson

Robertson also created several Scottish endurance records, which remained intact until after both World Wars. He set a three-miles record at Windsor (14min 27.2sec) in late July, which survived for three decades until 1949.

A few days later on 1 August 1908, at the Rangers Sports at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, he sliced 21 seconds from the Scottish four-mile record. His 19 mins 45:2 secs performance stood for 45 long years as the Scottish record.

At the end of August the intrepid Robertson crossed the North Sea by ship for a racing tour of Scandinavia. Running almost every day, he won several races.

His greatest triumph took place on 13 September 1908 when on Stockholm's cycle track; A.J. stopped the clock in 15:01.2 to defeat the World 5000 metres record-holder John Svanberg in front of his Swedish fans. This performance not only took more than a dozen seconds from Svanberg's previous world's best time but also would have been fast enough to secure the Olympic 5,000m bronze medal in Paris 16 years later in 1924.

Just 24 hours later, on a banked concrete track, Robertson missed the world one-hour best by 228 yards and was within 83 yards of the legendary Walter George's UK record. He covered 11 miles 849 yards, setting Scottish records en route at six miles and 10,000m (30:26.0 and 31:30.4).

Unsurprisingly in view of the intensity of his racing schedule, the Scot could hardly walk for some time afterwards because of excruciating bruising and soreness to his ankles and feet.

Robertson led Birchfield Harriers to their tenth National team title and was runner-up in individual race at the 1909 English National Cross Country Championships on Haydock Park Racecourse. Arthur retired from athletics in 1909.

He won two more silver medals in the same afternoon in the one and four miles events in his last season but missed out once again on an elusive AAA title.

He returning to cycling at the age of 30 after a mercurially short athletics career in which he scaled the heights of national and international success. He later became a Director of Peterborough Town Football Club after playing for the club in a varied sporting career.

Arthur and his brother ran a sports shop in Peterborough for many years.

Written by: Tom McCook

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