After forsaking a promising career as a footballer, Lynn Davies initially specialized in the triple jump but in 1961 he was persuaded by Ron Pickering, the Welsh national coach, to concentrate on long jumping. The wisdom of the decision soon became apparent and the following year Davies made his international debut at the European Championships. Later in 1962, he finished fourth at the Commonwealth Games with a new British record of 25-4 (7.72) and after a year of consolidation Davies was ready for the Tokyo Olympics. He opened the 1964 season with a new British record of 26-3¾ (8.01) in May and then raised the records to 26-4 (8.02) in July. In atrocious weather conditions, Davies won a classic competition in Tokyo to become the first British athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in a field event since Timothy Ahearne's victory in the triple jump in 1908. Davies' winning mark of 26-5¾ (8.07) was yet another Commonwealth record.
In the post-Olympic year, Davies lost twice to Igor Ter-Ovanesyan and traded wins with Ralph Boston; in 1966, during an early season tour of South Africa, he made two further improvements to the Commonwealth record, finishing with a sin in the South African Championships with a jump of 26-10 (8.18). Later in the year he added the European and Commonwealth titles to his Olympic crown to become the first athlete ever to hold all three titles.
In 1967 he won the European indoor title and in 1968 he improved the Commonwealth record to 27-0 (8.23) but his hopes of retaining his Olympic title were shattered by Bob Beamon's legendary jump in Mexico. After finishing second in both the European indoor and outdoor meetings in 1969, Davies retained his Commonwealth title in 1970 and at Munich in 1972 he made his third Olympic appearance but, handicapped by injury, he failed to qualify for the final.
Sometimes overlooked are Davis' talents as a sprinter; he recorded times of 9.7 seconds for 100 yards and 10.51 seconds for 100 metres. At the 1964 Olympics he ran in the 100 metres and was a member of the relay team which reached the final.
Davis, who ranks as one of Britain's greatest athletes, was awarded the MBE in 1967 and after retiring from competition in 1973 he was appointed technical director of Canadian athletics. He returned home in 1976 and continued to serve the sport in many capacities – he was the assistant manager of the British team at the Moscow Olympics. He had a spell as a BBC television sports commentator and latterly became the President of UK Athletics, the governing body of the sport in Great Britain.
Personal Bests: 100 – 10.51 (1967); LJ – 27-0 (8.23) (1968).
Athlete Olympic Results Content