By Barry Newcombe
Peter Hildreth, the former Olympic hurdler and Sunday Telegraph athletics correspondent, captured attention in his home town Farnham last week by running up the down escalator in a local store to celebrate his 80th birthday.
“I recalled that as a young man living in London I used to run up the down escalators on the Underground for no other reason than my own personal amusement. I just wanted to see if I could still do it now that I’m 80,” Hildreth said.
Hildreth told the management of Elphicks Store in Farnham in Surrey that it was because of the tea and cakes he ate in their restaurant that he was able to have the energy to attempt the feat. “I said that it was all down to their excellent refreshments as I regularly go the restaurant,” he said.
That was not enough for the store’s management to allow him to continue his unusual feat. “They’ve said ‘no’ and so I must respect that. I’ll probably have a go at Marks and Spencer in Guildford, but that one is quite a lot longer,” Hildreth said to the Farnham Herald.
The store said that Hildreth, who competed in the 1952, 1956 and 1960 Olympics, that he had set a bad example to others and that anyone caught doing it could face a ban from the store.
The operations director, Graham Duerden, said: “We have people aged 80 who go the right way up the escalators and fall over so we simply can’t have this man attempting this sort of thing.”