David Gareth Bryan-Jones, b. West Kirby, Merseyside, 25 February 1943. Steeplechaser who placed 4th at the Commonwealth Games and represented GB at the Olympic Games.
When Welshman Gareth Bryan-Jones moved from Leeds University to Edinburgh University in 1965 at the age of twenty-two years, he joined a group of students who were avowed members of the "Ton Up" club. The university distance runners regularly clocked up 100 miles per week during their training and were successful in road, cross country and track races.
Bryan-Jones quickly showed the benefits of this rigorous training regime, and within a year had made his mark with a time of 9 minutes exactly for the 3000 metres steeplechase event. Winning the British Universities title and taking the silver medal in the Scottish Championship race, he produced a best of 8:52.4 in 1967 and from then on his improvement was rapid. In 1968 he exploded onto the top of the British and international rankings, winning the Scottish and British titles on top of winning the British Universities and British Isles Cup races (he had competed for Wales in the British Isles Cup in 1967 but switched allegiance to Scotland the following year).
His Scottish title win in 8:40.6 was the fastest time ever recorded in Scotland, setting All-Comers and championship records, and his AAA title win of 8:36.2 was second on the UK all-time list. He was selected for the 1968 Olympic Games at Mexico City but, like so many other athletes from sea level, failed to run to their best form in the oxygen-starved high altitude conditions in Mexico and did not progress past his heat. He looked set for another fine summer when recording an early season 8:41.0 win for the East District title in May and retained his national title in 8:46.2 for an inches win over Alistair Blamire. At August's AAA Championships he easily won the fastest heat in 8:41.6, but a leg injury forced him out of the final and he missed selection for the 1971 European Championships in Athens.
The following year a victory in 8:41.8 at the Scottish Championships preceded the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh and two further wins in 1971 and 1975 gave him a total of five national title wins. The 28-year-old, who had recorded excellent times in flat races, prepared well for the Commonwealth Games. He recorded fast steeplechase times when running for Britain in the European Cup final and in an international against East Germany. After an easy qualifying run in his heat, he lined up for the Games final on top form. In a race run at a fast pace from the start, he established himself in the leading group of runners, cheered on by an enthusiastic capacity crowd. Run out of a medal by his lack of a fast finishing sprint on the final lap he eventually finished an excellent fourth, being the first Briton home in a lifetime best of 8:33.8 which was the fastest recorded by a UK athlete that year. To record his best ever time, in the most important race of his life, before his home crowd in his own city was a dream achievement and his performance was further validated when the Kenyan bronze medallist in front of him was Amos Biwott, who had won the Olympic title two years earlier in Mexico City.
Making his debut in the steeplechase in 1964, he continued in the event until 1980, a remarkable longevity. He had a great range of events, appearing in Scottish ranking lists at distances from 800 metres to marathon. It is also interesting to note that, unusually for a competitor at international level, that his personal bests at all his events were set in Scotland across a wide range of tracks (as can be seen in the detail below). He was never eligible for a Scottish record under the rules in force at the time, although his best of 8:33.8 was set while representing Scotland at the Commonwealth Games!
Bryan-Jones settled happily in Scotland, working as a research microbiologist, and proved a popular and successful figure on the Scottish scene, being a member of winning Edinburgh Southern teams in cross country championships and the Edinburgh to Glasgow relay race. He displayed another aspect of athletics - hill running - and happily competed over the hills into his seventies. His daughter Kirsty became a Scottish and British international in orienteering.
|800 metres||1:56.0||Meadowbank, Edinburgh||17 June 1970|
|1500 metres||3:51.6||Grangemouth||13 July 1969|
|1 mile||4:13.4||St Andrews||1 June 1968|
|3000 metres||8:10.6||Meadowbank, Edinburgh||4 July 1970|
|2 miles||9:07.8||New Meadowbank, Edinburgh||20 August 1966|
|3 miles||13:44.2||Fernieside, Edinburgh||18 May 1968|
|5000 metres||13:56.0||Peffermill, Edinburgh||15 May 1969|
|10000 metres||29:44.0||Bellahouston, Glasgow||11 August 1971|
|Marathon||2:23:47||North Berwick||8 May 1971|
|3000m S'chase||8:33.8||Meadowbank, Edinburgh||23 July 1970|
|3000 METRES STEEPLECHASE|
|3000m S'chase||8:36.2||White City, London||1968|
|GOLD MEDALS (5)|
|3000m S'chase||8:41.8||Meadowbank, Edinburgh||1970|
|3000m S'chase||9:08.2||Meadowbank, Edinburgh||1971|
|3000m S'chase||8:58.8||Meadowbank, Edinburgh||1975|
|1968||3000m S'chase||7, heat 3||9:16.86||Mexico City (MEX)|
|1970||3000m S'chase||4, heat 2||8:52.6||Edinburgh|
|GREAT BRITAIN & NORTHERN IRELAND INTERNATIONAL APPEARANCES (5)|
|1968||Olympic Games||3000m Steeplechase||7h3||9:16.86|
|1970||East Germany||3000m Steeplechase||2||8:46.6|
|1970||European Cup Semi Final||3000m Steeplechase||2||8:47.6|
|SCOTTISH ALL-COMERS' RECORD|
|3000m S'chase||8:46.2||Grangemouth||28 June 1969||22 July 1970|
|SCOTTISH BEST PERFORMANCES|
|3000m S'chase||8:40.6||Grangemouth||2 June 1968||8 June 1968|
|3000m S'chase||8:38.2||Grangemouth||8 June 1968||13 July 1968|
|3000m S'chase||8:36.2||White City, London||13 July 1968||23 July 1970|
|3000m S'chase||8:33.8||Meadowbank, Edinburgh||23 July 1970||16 July 1978|