Let’s get Holbeach legend Geoff Capes in athletics hall of fame
A campaign has started that could see Holbeach athletics legend Geoff Capes recognised for a career spanning three Olympic Games and the coaching of young stars.
The 68-year-old, who won two Commonwealth Games and two European indoor shot put titles in the 1970s, is to be nominated for a place in the England Athletics Hall of Fame.
If successful, Geoff would join the likes of Sir Roger Bannister, Lord Sebastian Coe, Dame Kelly Holmes and fellow Holbeach athlete Stuart Storey, who coached the ex-policeman throughout his career before retiring after the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Geoff, who now lives in Stoke Rochford, near Grantham, said: “I’ve only heard about the campaign myself recently after Stuart received Hall of Farm recognition last year.
“The award would be gratefully received by me after giving my life to the sport of athletics – and I’m still giving it.
“I’ve always been a local lad, and I still am, which is why the older generation still remember me.
It’s only through local sport that I got to where I am now and that’s why I’ve decided to work with my son Lewis on running the Lincolnshire Throws Academy which we’ve had for nine years
“I’ve lived my life as an ideas man and I’ve gone from shot putting to strongman competitions and onto birds because I want to win.”
After joining the former Holbeach Athletics Club in the mid-1960s, Geoff went on to become Britain’s most capped male athlete ever, having worn the international vest 67 times.
Geoff won European Indoor Championships and Commonwealth Games shot put gold medals in 1974, another European indoor title in 1976 and Commonwealth Games gold again in 1978.
He also won titles in the World’s Strongest Man competition and World Highland Games Championships, alongside a passion and success with budgies, becoming president of the Budgerigar Society of Great Britain in 2008.
Geoff said: “It’s only through local sport that I got to where I am now and that’s why I’ve decided to work with my son Lewis on running the Lincolnshire Throws Academy which we’ve had for nine years.
“Athletics in Lincolnshire revolved around one or two people, the unsung heroes who keep plodding on.
“But once those people have gone, what happens to Lincolnshire athletics?
“People ask me why do I bother with coaching young athletes and it’s because I love the sport.”
The Hall of Fame campaign has been backed by Mr Storey who is retiring from commentating on athletics next year after 45 years at the microphone.
He said: “I look at the list of those who are in the England Athletics Hall of Fame and can’t believe that I’m on it, but Geoff isn’t.
“Not only was he the greatest shot putter we’ve ever had but Geoff’s now established a group of young throwers who pretty well head up all of the junior rankings.
“Geoff spends a lot of his time coaching these youngsters which he does freely, without really taking any money, and I would support any campaign there is to get Geoff into the England Athletics Hall of Fame.”
Malcolm Fenton, of Sleaford, Throws Technical Advisor on the Coach and Athlete Development Team at England Athletics and who is leading the Hall of Fame campaign, said: “Two British shot putters have been inducted into the Hall of Fame (Judy Oakes and Arthur Rowe) and whilst I have no quarrel with their inclusion, it merely highlights the injustice that has been done to Geoff.
“As trying to get him inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame, I have successfully got him into the UK Strongman Hall of Fame and I am now looking into a nomination for a long overdue MBE which I believe has never been awarded to Geoff because he was a vocal supporter of Great Britain attending the 1980 Olympics, against the wishes of then then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
“Personally, I have known Geoff since 1977, with us both being throwers, and since moving to Lincolnshire last year, I have met with him many times to discuss his throws group and how England Athletics could help them.”
Lewis, whose son Donovan (12) is part of the academy and has won six titles in both shot put and discus this year, said: “Myself and my father run the Lincolsnhire Throws Academy during the winter and it includes around 20 throwers from the East Anglia region aged from 13-years-old through to adults.
“The idea is to provide high-quality coaching to throwers and their coaches to help develop them and we have produced many ranked athletes over the years, including junior and senior international athletes.
“My father also has his own elite throwers and power lifting group who he trains at Stoke Rochford Hall.
“We feel that it’s time for Dad to be recognised for all his efforts and time over the years as one of the best field event athletes this country has ever produced, along with the time he gives to the next generation of throwers.”
• You can nominate Geoff by contacting Scott Grace of England Athletics at firstname.lastname@example.org