Croydon Harriers coach wins lifetime achievement award
FOR humble 74-year-old Mike Fleet, being awarded a prestigious lifetime achievement award at last week's Croydon Community Civic Awards came as something of a surprise.
"I knew I was nominated, but we didn't find out until the actual evening that I had won," he said.
In the eyes of many, the title could not have gone to anyone better.
Mr Fleet has dedicated his life to coaching, encouraging and being a guiding hand to young people wanting to prove themselves in the sporting world.
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For the past 50 years the community stalwart has trained young athletes, who want to compete at the highest level possible, at the Croydon Harriers Athletics Club
And, as an experienced runner who competed in the 800 metre race at the 1962 Commonwealth Games, he is the perfect man to pass on his experience and expertise to younger runners.
He said: "There is still a chocolate bar, a large one, on offer to anyone at the Harriers who can beat my record, which has stood since 1962 and is 148.2 in the 800 metres.
"It was a very educational experience for me and I loved competing. Unfortunately I peaked in 1962 and my Olympic year was 1964, so I just missed out. I was very disappointed.
"But I love coaching. Many coaches collect athletes that are very good – I like to see people enjoying it and I like to see an improvement, no matter how good they are.
"I am something of a people person."
Mr Fleet's dedication to improving the lives of young people also goes as far as schools. He taught for a number of years at what was previously known as Haling Manor, as well as at South Croydon Secondary, Selhurst Grammar and Trinity schools.
Even now he continues to coach children in schools around the borough, including Whitgift, and also dedicates much of his time to charity, specifically Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).
And 2012 has proved to be something of a lucky year for Mr Fleet after he was also named as one of the few who would be given the opportunity to carry the Olympic Torch through the town.
One of 28,000 people nominated nationwide, Mr Fleet made it down the 8,000 who will be given the honour.
He will be running through his hometown with the Torch on July 23.
He said: "I'm honoured to be picked.
"As I missed out on my Olympic year this is something of a late consolation."