Friday, 4 October 2013

Friday Photos (7): Lillian Board (1948-1970)

One of my earliest childhood sporting memories is the death of Lillian Board. A runner at 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m, she was only 19 when she won a silver medal running for Great Britain in the 400m in the 1968 Mexico Olympics. 

Colette Besson (left) narrowly beat Lilian Board in 400m in Mexico in a fantastic finish

The following year she won gold in the 800m at the European Athletics Championships in Athens (pictured below), and another gold as part of the world-record setting women's 4 x 400m relay team. 

 She was a massive star in Britain with a great career seemingly ahead of her, but sadly she died in December 1970 at the age of 22 from bowel cancer.

Lillian Board and team mate Janet Simpson training in Mexico in 1968

Front cover of Athletics Weekly, September 28 1968: left to right: Maureen Tranter, Anita Neil, Lillian Board, Janet Simpson - the 4 x 100m team in Mexico 1968 (they came 7th)

Lillian Board was featured on the BBC's Desert Island Discs in 1969. The songs she chose were:

Mikis Theodorakis - Title Theme (from Zorba the Greek)
Simon & Garfunkel - A Poem on the Underground Wall
Nat King Cole - When I Fall in Love
The Sandpipers - Guantanamera
Tom Paxton - The Last Thing On My Mind
Mason Williams - Classical Gas
Jack Jones - Without Her
Judy Collins - Both Sides Now

Lots more about Lillian Board here

Previously in the Friday Photos Series:


  1. I remember reading a book about this runner years ago. Very sad that she died at such a young age.

  2. In 1965 my girlfriend, Avril Usher (later Bowring) of Kent AC ran against Lillian at Southall in a 100yds race. Lillian won in windy 10.6 to Avril's 10.8. Later Avril beat her in 440yds race, apparently Lillian's debut at the distance, 57.8 to 58.1. This is mentioned in David Emery's book "Lillian" p. 37. . Thought you might like to know the connection. Roy Candy

  3. Great to hear from you Roy, would be interested in any stories/memories you have about Kent AC in that period, a few of us are trying to update the club's history and that's a bit of a gap for us.

    1. Sadly I don't have any documentation but I have some photographs and a lot of happy memories. I'll sort some of them out and let you know. Roy