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Tom McNab (b1933)

Tom McNab was born in Glasgow in 1933, and educated at Whitehill Senior Secondary School and Jordanhill College of Physical Education. A UNESCO Essay medallist at 14, he was already in his teens contributing to the national press.

His passion was sport, and by 1952 he had represented Glasgow Schools at football, and was Scottish Junior Triple Jump champion. After national service in the Royal Air Force as a Flying Officer, he became a physical education teacher (1958–62) and National Athletics Coach to Southern England (1963–77). During this period, he created the Five Star Award, the world’s most successful athletics award scheme, and the national decathlon programme which produced Daley Thompson.

In 1980, having coached several world-class athletes, he was appointed coach to the British Olympic Bobsleigh team. At the same time, he was preparing the cast of Chariots of Fire as Technical Director, having previously worked with screenwriter Colin Welland on the script .

It was at this time that he embarked upon Flanagan’s Run, which was published in 1982, going immediately to no. 1 on the British best-seller lists. In 1983–4, he worked with Peter Jay in the setting up of Tvam, Britain’s first commercial breakfast station. Since then, he has been coach to two English World Cup rugby teams (1987–1992), has coached world-class athletes such as the long jumper Greg Rutherford, and was twice British Coach of the Year.




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