Tributes paid as athlete takes last lap

Orien Young's coffin is taken down the 100m track at the Mountbatten Centre before his funeral service Picture: Sarah Standing (161479-9341)

Orien Young's coffin is taken down the 100m track at the Mountbatten Centre before his funeral service Picture: Sarah Standing (161479-9341)

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THEY came to pay their respects to a Portsmouth sporting legend.

And, just like in his sprinting heyday, the masses stood to acclaim Orien Young as he took his final 100m at the Mountbatten Centre.

Orien Young

Orien Young

Orien was yesterday buried after dying at the age of 85 last month.

But before people said their farewells to the City of Portsmouth AC great at The Oaks Crematorium in Havant, there was one final visit to the track which for so long had been his second home.

Applause broke out as Young’s coffin was flanked by the many who had been inspired by the international athlete.

There were tears and smiles in equal measure as friends, relatives, club-mates and those coached by the trailblazer for black athletes heard the theme from Chariots of Fire poignantly play.

And then the starter’s gun fired in a moving tribute to the much-loved coach.

City of Portsmouth coach Pat Butcher said: ‘His achievements were fantastic and underestimated. He was a top coach but also a wonderful person with a great sense of humour.’

Orien, considered the first leading black athlete from Portsmouth and who competed in the Vancouver Commonwealth Games, died following a brief illness at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

As well as being an 11-time Hampshire county sprint champion, he was an honorary life vice president of City of Portsmouth Athletics Club, as well as the club’s president for many years.

In a moving tribute, club chairman Phil Budd said: ‘Orien was one of those figures that will be forever synonymous with Portsmouth Athletic Club.’

Orien moved to the UK from Bermuda in about 1950 and was a former electrical warfare expert deployed on submarines.

He became heavily involved in the British Transplant Games and was instrumental in bringing the games to Southsea in 1978.

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