Meet Luton’s former Olympians

LUTON has produced many fine sportsmen and women and Yesteryear has discovered at least 10 who represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games.

Saturday, 30th June 2012, 1:10 pm

But although they competed in a wide range of sports – athletics, swimming, diving, rowing, hockey – and some reached the finals of their events, we’ve found only one medallist.

The oldest surviving Luton-born Olympian is believed to be Morville Chote, now aged 87 and living in Devon.

Chote, pictured above, took part in the javelin throw as a member of the GB team at the 1948 London Games.

He was a pupil at Luton Modern School from 1934-42 and became head boy and captain of athletics.

After reading modern languages at Emmanuel College, Oxford, he enlisted in the Army in 1943 and served for 21 years, before spending 20 years with insurance company Canada Life.

Chote was coached in athletics at Luton Modern by deputy head Cyril Godfrey and as a javelin thrower he represented England, the AAA, the British Army and the Combined Services in international matches.

At the 1948 Olympics, he was ranked 19th with a throw of 54.84metres, although his personal best that year was 61.96metres.

In a letter to Luton historian James Dyer in 2003, Chote wrote: “During my short Olympic athletic career I had no coaching at all (encouragement, yes). I should have made use of Franz Stampfl, who coached Roger Bannister, but I missed out.”

> Probably the most well-known of the other Luton-born Olympians is diver Tony Ally, who took part in three Games – 1996 (Atlanta), 2000 (Sydney) and 2004 (Athens). Ally, pictured above first and second left, finished 18th, 12th and 15th respectively in the springboard event, but he did better in the synchronized springboard, coming 7th (2000) and 5th (2004).

At the 1996 Olympics he publicised the plight of British divers and lack of funding by publicly selling his British Olympic team kit to help pay for a post-Games party. He went on to be flag-bearer for the English contingent at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006.

Ally won gold at the European Championships in Istanbul (1999), plus Commonwealth Games silver in Manchester (2002) and Melbourne (2006) and bronze in Kuala Lumpur (1998).

> Still in the swimming pool, a trio of ladies who were all born in Luton have competed in the Olympics.

They are diver Carolyn Roscoe, ranked 18th in each of her events – platform (Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988) and springboard (1988); and swimmers Kathryn Evans, a member of the 4x100metres freestyle relay team that finished sixth in 2004, and Carrie Willmott, ninth in the same relay event in 1996.

> Our only Olympic medal winner is rower John Yallop, who achieved silver as a member of the men’s coxed eights in Montreal (1976).

> John Bell was in the men’s hockey team which finished 4th in Rome (1960).

> Colin Boreham was 20th in the decathlon in 1984, while Brian Oddie, who died in 1996, aged 91, crossed the line 9th in the 5,000metres in Amsterdam (1928).

> Cross-country skiier Glenn Scott competed in four events at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, with a best placing of 63rd.

> Long distance runner Tony Simmons, pictured above right, was a member of Luton United Harriers when he finished fourth in the 10,000 metres final in 1976, but he was born in Wales.