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John Bicourt RIP

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St Mary’s is saddened to learn of the passing of alumnus and former lecturer John Bicourt (1945-2023). John was a highly-regarded middle-distance athlete who competed at two Olympic Games in the Steeplechase, as well as his roles in academia and athletics governing bodies.

Former St Mary’s Vice-Principal Emeritus Professor Richard Fisher has shared his reflections on John’s life and career at St Mary’s and the world of athletics:

John Bicourt was a Physical Education student at St Mary’s from 1967 to 1970 and later returned to St Mary’s to lecture in Athletics. As a student he was already a good athlete but also showed abilities beyond just performing, once organising the British PE College’s Cross Country Championships from the College. He taught in London in the 1970s not just PE but also O-Level and A-Level Sociology

John became a world class steeplechaser and remains one of our finest exponents of that event. Athletics Weekly pointed out that he still ranks 14th in the all-time British list for steeplechase and was regarded by all as a fine technician. He represented GB in the Olympic Games of 1972 in Munich and again in the 1976 Games in Montreal as well as running in the 1974 European Championships in Rome. In the Commonwealth Games that year he gained a highly creditable 4th place in a race won by the fine Kenyan athlete Ben Jipcho.

John then pioneered the evolution of athlete management setting up Athletes International Management in 1982, which he led until 2004 looking after athletes from a number of countries as well as Great Britain. He was also a founder member of the International Association of Athletes’ Representatives (IAAR) and an elected board member.

John stood out as a coach, teacher, lecturer and advocate for athletics as well as a strident voice on the organisation, funding and future of the sport. Those whom he influenced and worked with attest to his commitment to excellence, his willingness to give time to athletes, both advising and supporting them, and his genuine love for the sport. He referred occasionally to his health issues but his rather sudden death from cancer came as something of a surprise.

St Mary’s has had many outstanding endurance athletes over the years going back to Gordon Pirie competing the 1950s and 1960s and later a student, David Bedford in the 1970s and more recently Sir Mo Farah. John Bicourt was also one of St Mary’s finest.

Emeritus Professor Richard Fisher

Our thought and prayers are with John’s family, friends, and members of the athletics world whom he supported through his career.

May John rest in peace.

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