Olympic honour bestowed on David Miller, acclaimed journalist and former SJA chairman

The International Olympic Committee has recognised the “unique contribution” of writer and historian David Miller, who was previously chief sports correspondent of The Times and is the author of the official history of the Games…

By Philip Barker

David Miller with Sir Craig Reedie (image: British Olympic Association)

Former SJA chairman David Miller has been awarded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Pierre de Coubertin Medal in recognition of his efforts to promote the Olympic Movement.

The presentation was made by Sir Craig Reedie, former British Olympic Association Chairman, IOC Vice President and World Anti-Doping Agency President.

“I’ve known David for many years,” said Sir Craig. “It came through the joy of reading him. He was part of a wonderful era of Olympic journalism, and this award is richly deserved.”

A gifted amateur footballer who played for Corinthian Casuals, Miller missed out on the Olympic squad after the size of the party was reduced for the long trip to the 1956 Games in Melbourne.

Miller first reported from the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 after an epic journey across Asia by the Trans Siberian Railway.

In a long career, he wrote about sport for the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Express and The Times.

He served as Chairman of our organisation, then known as the Sports Writers Association, from 1981 to 1983.

It was in the same era that he worked with Seb Coe on his first autobiography, ‘Running Free’.

Later came another collaboration with Coe on ‘Born to Run’ and ‘Olympic Revolution’, a biography of long-serving IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Miller also chronicled the politics of the Olympic movement, covering unsuccessful bids by Birmingham and Manchester before the ultimate success of London 2012.

‘Athens to Athens’, his official history of the Olympics and the IOC, came out as the Games returned to the Greek capital in 2004.

A massive volume, it ran to over 700 pages and has subsequently been updated at each successive Olympics.

“David’s contribution is absolutely unique and his work to highlight the history of the Games is absolutely fantastic,” Sir Craig added.

Miller was also a renowned writer on football and authored the official Football Association Report of the 1970 FIFA World Cup.

50 years ago, he travelled to Zaire to witness the preparations of the home side who had qualified for the 1974 World Cup.

In 1978, he produced a thoughtful account of the politically charged World Cup under the shadow of the military junta in Argentina.

In a special message, IOC President Thomas Bach paid tribute.

“Your writing ultimately served a higher purpose than to simply inform people of the latest scores and results,” said Bach.

“With your expert­ knowledge of the Olympic Movement, you always instinctively grasped the central idea of the Olympic mission: to unite the entire world in peaceful competition.”

The Pierre de Coubertin Medal (image: British Olympic Association)

Although other Britons have received the Coubertin Medal, Miller is believed to be the first British sports journalist to receive it since its inception in 1997.

Others had previously been honoured by the IOC. Longtime Reuters editor Vernon Morgan received the now discontinued Olympic Diploma. Later, the Olympic Order was conferred on Steve Parry, another Reuters chief.

John Hennessy of The Times, John Rodda of The Guardian and Geoffrey Miller of Associated Press were all inducted in the same year.

SJA stalwart Morley Myers and David Coleman, a colossus of British broadcasting, also received the Olympic Order.

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