Brian Hewson (© Ed Lacey / Popperfoto)
World Athletics is deeply saddened to hear that Brian Hewson, two-time Olympic competitor and 1958 European 1500m gold medallist, died on Tuesday (13) at the age of 89.
Hewson represented Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games and was one of the first athletes to run a sub-four-minute mile, clocking 3:59.8 in 1955. As well as his 1958 European title, Hewson also claimed two Commonwealth Games silver medals in the 880 yards, in 1954 and 1958.
Born in Croydon in Surrey on 4 April 1933, Hewson attended Pollards Hill Junior School in London and then Mitcham Grammar School before training as a tailor at the Regent Street Polytechnic.
It was while at Mitcham Grammar School that Hewson’s athletics journey began. He joined Mitcham Athletics Club and was coached by Frank Drew before joining Austrian coach Franz Stampfl, who also guided athletes including Roger Bannister and Chris Chataway.
Bannister became the first man to run a mile within four minutes on 6 May 1954 and just over a year later, on 28 May 1955, Hewson became the fifth athlete to ever achieve the feat when he finished third behind Hungary’s Laszlo Tabori and Chataway at the White City Stadium in London with his 3:59.8 run. Tabori’s number from that race was donated to the World Athletics Heritage Collection in 2020.
Hewson made his Olympic debut in 1956, finishing fifth in the 1500m final in Melbourne. His strongest season came in 1958, when he won his European 1500m title in Stockholm and finished second at the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff to secure his second successive Commonwealth 880 yards silver medal after his runner-up finish in Vancouver four years earlier.
Hewson’s build up to the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome was disrupted by a calf injury but he still managed to race and finished fourth in his heat.
Hewson retired from athletics after the Rome Olympics and continued working as a tailor at Simpson's of Piccadilly in London before setting up his own company. His career would continue to revolve around clothing, sport, fashion and retailing, seeing him become a women's fashion buyer for English Lady and a sportswear and sporting goods buyer for Debenhams. He then joined the Incentive Group where he was involved in the design and manufacture of corporate uniforms for major UK multi-national companies.
Hewson was married to Marion and was father to James, Caroline and Charles, stepfather to Tim, Sally, Robert and Penny, and a much-loved grandfather.