Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Olympic athletics coach Mike Smith dies aged 88

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Media captionMike Smith cheered on Iwan Thomas in the 1998 Commonwealth Games from the BBC studios in Southampton

An athletics coach who nurtured the talents of Olympic, Commonwealth and European medal winners has died after a short illness.

Southampton-based Mike Smith was renowned for his work training up and coming athletics stars in a career spanning five decades.

His most famous athletes include Iwan Thomas MBE, Kriss Akabusi, Todd Bennett, Roger Black and Donna Hartley.

Thomas said he would be "doing a lap of Southampton track" in his honour.

Many of them have paid tribute to Mr Smith, who died aged 88.

In a statement his family said the coach, who looked after more than 30 international athletes, "crossed the finishing line" on Sunday 5 March.

Image caption Iwan Thomas MBE paid tribute to "a man I owe so much to who was so much more than just a coach"

Mr Smith, who was also a commentator for BBC Radio Solent and South Today, is survived by his wife Jo, daughter Janet and son Bob.

Paying tribute on Twitter, Iwan Thomas said: "Most of my adult life was based around him and everything I achieved was because of him, I'm devastated.

"The man I owe so much to who was so much more than just a coach. I'm having a beer in his honour and doing a lap of Southampton track."

Others have remembered the coach as a "calm, gentle and knowledgeable man".

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