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AGELESS ATHLETE LES WILLIAMS’ 50th LEAGUE SEASON

AGELESS ATHLETE LES WILLIAMS’ 50th LEAGUE SEASON

THE LAUNCH OF LES WILLIAMS’ BIOGRAPHY – ‘LES’

Monday, 20 March 2023 – Melbourne

The Victorian Athletic League (VAL) wishes to extend congratulations to veteran athlete Les Williams, now 67, on his remarkable professional running career, which is now in to its sixth decade. 

In 1973, Williams commenced competing in the VAL and is now running in his 50th VAL season, which demonstrates his incredible athletic durability and resilience. The VAL acknowledges and recognises the significance of this milestone.

With the official launch of Les Williams’ biography, Les, on 29 March 2023, it is the perfect time to celebrate the career of Les Williams.

To honour and recognise this outstanding milestone, the VAL will institute the Les Williams Award. The Award will be awarded annually to the Best and Fairest Masters’ Athlete across the VAL season on Presentation Night.

President of the VAL, Matthew McDonough, said Williams was an extraordinary athlete, who was still making “significant contributions to the sport”. McDonough said, “the Award would be a fitting tribute to honour his competitive performances and sportsmanship over 50 years within the VAL.”

McDonough said, “the VAL congratulates and thanks Les Williams on his 50 seasons. His impact is substantial on the VAL and the sport of running in Victoria and Australia. We are so delighted Kerrie Cross chose to invest time and research to document Les’ story. Les is such a colourful character from our sport and synonymous with professional running.”

Williams turned professional in 1973 as a 16-year-old and has won 69 sashes across 50 seasons in the League in an exceptional running career. Most recently, Williams won the Wangaratta Open 800m handicap in January 2023. His other career highlights include victories in the 400m at Stawell in 1983,1600m at Bendigo in 2002, as well as the 400m at Bendigo in 1980 and 1988. Williams also won the Zatopek Mile in 2001. 

The VAL awarded Williams the Distance Athlete of the Year in seasons 1994/95, 95/96, 1996/97, and 1998/99.

Since turning 60 years of age, Williams has won every Victorian Masters’ Gold Medal from 400m through to 10 Mile including track, road races and cross country.

In 2016, Williams finished 6th in the World Masters’ Athletics 800m Final in Perth. In his sixties, Williams has run in over 100 Park Runs   (5 kilometres) under 20 minutes with his best Park Run time 18.22 at Lakes Entrance.

Williams’ contribution to the sport has been significant as an athlete, trainer, coach, and promoter. But in the current season, in his effort to attract many new athletes to the sport, improve participation, performances, and close race finishes, Williams introduced the concept of the VAL Masters’ 45+ category events for middle distance runners (800m/Mile races), which has been a boon.

Williams said he was “humbled by the honour” and thanked the VAL for their recognition of the Award in his name and said, “running had given him much more than he had given the sport.”

About the Victorian Athletic League 

The Victorian Athletic League, established in 1895, is responsible as the controlling body for professional running or Gift races in Victoria. The VAL allows athletes of all ages and abilities to compete in a fun and competitive environment for prize money through a handicap system. Racing is traditionally held in metropolitan Melbourne and country Victoria on pristine grass surfaces with distances ranges from 70m to 3200m. The VAL is co-located with other Athletics bodies at the purpose-built athletics facilities at Lakeside Stadium in Albert Park.

About ‘LES’ – the Biography

‘LES’ is written in two parts. Part One is the story of Les’ life. Part Two is about the sport of professional running.

Over the course of a year, the author, Kerrie Cross, had weekly conversations with Les. She also interviewed friends and family. In these conversations, Les revealed his intriguing life, a life in horticulture and professional running; a life that sometimes took him into risky territory. Les’ story from childhood, and at times a turbulent youth, sheds light on many important social issues including how the education system failed boys with ADHD. For a time, Les was in the slipstream of the Melbourne underworld, but he never fell under the wheels. This is the story of why not?

The Les Williams biography, titled ‘Les’, will be on sale exclusively through The Avenue Bookstore, the 2022 Bookstore of the Year, from 29 March 2023: online purchases here https://avenuebookstore.com.au/

The recommended retail price is A$35.00 (inclusive of GST).
VAL Media Contact - Matthew McDonough email president@val.org.au 

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