England

Britain's oldest living Olympian Bill Lucas enjoys 100th birthday

Bill Lucas Image copyright PA
Image caption Bill Lucas will spend his birthday on Monday with his family

An evening whisky is the key to a long life, according to Britain's oldest living Olympian on his 100th birthday.

Bill Lucas said a glass of wine or sherry before lunch also kept him strong.

Mr Lucas, also the country's oldest living Bomber Command pilot, competed in the 5,000m track event at the 1948 London Olympic Games.

He celebrated his birthday at a party organised by his athletics club, Belgrave Harriers.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Bill Lucas was joined at his 100th birthday at the Belgrave Harriers club by fellow Olympians Snowy Brooks, Paskar Owor and John Bicourt

A member of the Belgrave Harriers club for 81 years, Mr Lucas said his call-up to the RAF deprived him of a chance of an Olympic medal.

The decorated pilot, who lives in Cowfold, West Sussex, ran his 1948 heat in 14 minutes 30.6 seconds - 20 seconds off that required to qualify for the final.

He said: "I spent six years in the service and I had done very little training and I'd missed 1940 and 1944, where I might well have got a medal or something like that... but Hitler deprived me of those, so I went and bombed them instead."


The 1948 London Olympics

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionWatch: Archive report about the opening of the 1948 Games

The 1948 Olympic Games took place in London as Europe continued to emerge from the shadow of World War II.

Dubbed "the Austerity Olympics", the Games were greeted enthusiastically by thousands who attended the opening ceremony and watched the torch being carried into Wembley Stadium by British athlete John Mark.


When Mr Lucas competed for Great Britain, aged 32, he had already flown 81 missions over Germany.

He trained for the 1948 Games while working full-time in insurance and living off rations in the post-war era.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Bill Lucas was joined by his wife Sheena for his birthday celebrations

Belgrave Harriers presented Mr Lucas with a 172-year-old bottle of Madeira wine at the party in Wimbledon, south-west London, on Sunday.

The party was the father-of-two's first outing since Christmas after he was cut out of a car following an accident in November.

He said the celebration was "absolutely marvellous".

Mr Lucas will spend his birthday on Monday with his family.

His wife Sheena, 87, said: "I'm immensely proud - I love him dearly and we have a wonderful life together."

More on this story