Ron Stonehouse, coach to Olympic runners Christina Boxer, Bernie Ford and Roger Hackney, has died. Ron’s own racing was with the Farnham Athletics Club where highlights during the mid fifties included clocking 1 min 54.2 for 880 yards, 4 min 11.0 for the mile and 9 min 16.06 for the 3000 metres steeplechase and winning the South of Thames cross country title. Farnham amalgamated with Aldershot AC in 1966, a process in which Ron was actively involved, and it was in the early years of the Aldershot Farnham & District Athletic Club that he made the transition from competitor to coach, a role he continued to perform until his late seventies.
Christina Boxer became in 1979 the first British woman to run two laps of the track in under two minutes and in 1982 won the 1500 metres at the Commonwealth Games. Bernie Ford twice won the English National Cross Country title and in 1976 finished third at the World cross, during a spell of nine consecutive appearances at these championships . Roger Hackney was the Commonwealth silver medallist for the steeplechase in 1986.
Ron also coached Ruth Smeeth who claimed the English Women’s cross country title when still a teenager (a separate race for under-20s was introduced a few years later) and was a member of the English team that won at the World Championships of 1986. Two more of his athletes later took English Schools senior track titles: Samantha Baines (3000 metres) and Elinor Doubell (1500 metres).
Ron was happy coaching youngsters: “this is where I get the most success and satisfaction”. Some of his athletes have themselves become successful coaches. He was proud too of how members of his training groups, both young and old, who had displayed little or no ability when they joined, progressed to good club and even county standard. This helped AFD become such a force on the distance running scene, a reputation that has been maintained by others to the present.