Michel Jazy dead at 87: Trailblazing athlete who set nine world records and won ‘race of the century’ passes away

LEGENDARY French athlete Michel Jazy has passed away at the age of 87.

The former world record holder was an iconic 1500-metre runner, winning the European title in 1962.

Frenchman Michel Jazy, right, racing back in 1965Credit: AFP
He has passed away at the age of 87Credit: AFP

In total, he set nine world records across a sensational career – the last of which came in his final appearance as an athlete.

He came devastatingly close to the Olympic title in Rome in 1960, finishing 0.65 seconds behind Australian Herb Elliott as he claimed the silver medal.

Four years later, he then narrowly missed out on a medal in the 5,000m as he came home fourth in Tokyo.

But in 1966 he did clinch the European title in the 5,000m in Budapest.


At the same event, he also earned silver in the 1500m.

Jazy was born into a poor coal-mining family from Poland who had emigrated to France after the First World War.

He left school at the age of just 14, before he became an apprentice in a printshop two years later.

In 1953, he won the 1000m in the youth race at the French national championships, before he achieved the same feat in the 1500m in 1955.

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In 1956, he joined the air force but continued to run alongside those duties – and even competed at the Olympic Games in Melbourne in the same year, finishing seventh.

Towards the end of the 1950s, he left the air force and began working at a printing plant.

Around this time, he also married Parisian secretary Irene Denis – who gave birth to their two daughters in the early 1960s.

Jazy’s colleagues at the printing plant insisted he worked overtime to compensate for his athletics training.

But L’Equipe newspaper editor Gaston Meyer then intervened and gave him a typographer job – which allowed him to train in the mornings.

And he went on to establish himself as one of France’s greatest athletes by winning European and Olympic medals, before he retired in 1966.

Source: Athletics -


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