Janet Ruff, the former Guardian sports correspondent, died on Tuesday after a long illness. She was 73.
Before embarking on a career as a journalist, Ruff had been an outstanding all-round sportswoman in the 1950s, setting a 400 metres world record as well as being an free-scoring international hockey centre forward for England.
As an athlete, Ruff joined Basingstoke AC when just 16, where she was coached by the club secretary, Wilf Stocker, and excelled at events from 220 yards to the mile – in days when women were believed too frail to compete at any distance beyond a half-lap – the shot, discus and javelin. Her club records, set more than 50 years ago, still stand.
She was three times the WAAA 440yds champion, her 56.5sec 1956 winning time generally accepted as the final 400m world record in the pre-IAAF official records era. But with no 400m for women at the Melbourne Olympics that October, her opportunities in that sport were restricted.
Pat Rowley of the Hockey Writers’ Club informs us that the funeral will be on Thursday August 27th at 2.20pm at Burnley Crematorium.
Donations to Christies Hospital, Manchester. Family flowers only.