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Tom McNab’s career spans both sport and the arts. Seven times Scottish triple jump champion, he played football for Scottish Youths and rugby for Bermuda, and has coached at world-level in athletics, rugby union and bobsleigh.
In 1963, he became a National Athletics Coach, created the Five Star Award Scheme, the world’s most successful children’s athletics programme, and the National Decathlon initiative which produced Daley Thompson. In 1973, he was coach to Chelsea FC when they won the FA Cup, and he helped take the English rugby union team to a silver medal in the 1991 World Cup.
It was in 1978 that he started work with Colin Welland as script advisor on the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, later becoming its technical director. It was in the same period that, having written definitive technical works such as Modern Schools Athletics, he wrote his first novel, Flanagan’s Run. This went to the top of the best-seller lists in its first week, into 25 languages, and is now in film development. His next major novel, the sports-western The Fast Men, was declared the best book ever written on track and field athletics.
A member of our London Olympic bid team, Tom presented a play on the Berlin Olympics, 1936, which showed successfully at Sadler’s Wells in 2012. His play on the German film director Riefenstahl, Leni. Leni., featured as a short film at Cannes in 2016, and Whisper in the Heart, featuring Riefenstahl and Orson Welles, will show at the Camden Arts Festival in August, 2018. He has recently written Orwell on Jura, and now has in preparation My Name is Joseph Knight, based on the famous Scottish slavery trial of 1778.
Still coaching back in 2003, he transformed a 16-year-old football player into a world-class long jumper. His name was Greg Rutherford.