Book to follow in footsteps of Chariots of Fire?

Only Gold Matters
Only Gold Matters

The author of a book about his family’s sporting hero is confident it will be turned into a film.

Only Gold Matters, the biography of Cecil Griffiths, an athlete who won an Olympic gold medal, but was denied the chance to become even greater, has just been published.

The remarkable story was written by Studham man John Hanna, whose wife, Vanessa, is the granddaughter of Cecil, one of only four Welsh track and field athletes to gain Olympic gold.

John was inspired to tell the story having discovered that there was little record of him compared with athletes who found fame in the 1924 ‘Chariots of Fire’ Olympics.

John, of Dunstable Road, told the Gazette: “I intend to bring this story to the attention of film and TV producers. I am confident that it will make the screen.”

Cecil was just 20 when he was a member of Great Britain’s winning 4 x 400metres relay team at the 1920 Games in Antwerp, Belgium. His brilliant opening leg run was a major factor in their triumph.

But Cecil was banned by athletics authorities from competing in subsequent Olympics. They declared that he was a professional runner, having accepted prize money totalling £10 in wartime charity carnivals in and around Neath in 1917.

Yet Cecil continued a successful domestic athletics career, winning four AAA Championship and ten Welsh Championship titles.

“He was a supreme athlete, respected by all and loved by many,” said former Luton postman John. “However, his treatment at the hands of the athletics authorities, hardship and personal tragedy were all blights on his life.”

John and his wife displayed a flag showing a Welsh drag outside their home and flew it at the Olympic Stadium during the 2012 Games in London.

Cecil was only 45 when he diedsuddenly of heart failure at Edgware Tube Station in 1945. His family later left Wales and settledin Monks Close, Dunstable.

The book launch in Neath was attended by several international sportsmen and local MP Peter Hain and Cecil’s gold medal was on display.

> Only Gold Matters is published in paperback by Chequered Flag Publishing, priced £11.99.