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Death of Olympic historian Ian Buchanan

PUBLISHED: 08:46 12 April 2008 | UPDATED: 08:55 13 July 2010

One of the foremost Olympic historians and a Norfolk man for the best part of 20 years, Ian Buchanan has died at the age of 76.

A co-founder of the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH) and its president from its founding in 1991 to 2000, his proudest moment came with the presentation to him of the Olympic Order in Silver by International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch in 1997.

One of the foremost Olympic historians and a Norfolk man for the best part of 20 years, Ian Buchanan has died at the age of 76.

A co-founder of the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH) and its president from its founding in 1991 to 2000, his proudest moment came with the presentation to him of the Olympic Order in Silver by International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch in 1997.

Mr Buchanan was born in Yorkshire in 1932 and from his earliest days was a sports fan.

He twice ran in the English Schools half mile for Sussex while at Hastings Grammar School and also played rugby, which was his favourite spectator sport. He attended the 1948 Olympics in London where his love of athletics and the Olympics blossomed.

He became a member of London Athletics Club and became close friends with Ross and Norris McWhirter, the twin brothers who founded the Guinness Book of Records.

His interest in athletics and statistics saw him take membership of worldwide body the Association of Track and Field Statisticians and of Britain's National Union of Track Statisticians.

Mr Buchanan worked with the McWhirters on the 1957 British Athletics Record Book and its subsequent update in 1958, a booklet which provided the first ever in depth all-time rankings for British athletes.

Many other written works were completed across years of fascination with Olympic statistics and Mr Buchanan is said to have considered his Who's Who of UK and GB International Athletes 1896-1939 as an especially proud achievement.

Away from the books, Mr Buchanan sponsored a group of Olympic historians to meet in 1991 at a pub in Hammersmith, London, and there the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH) was formed.

Mr Buchanan became the first president of ISOH, guided the society through its formative years and helped the group achieve official recognition by the International Olympic Committee.

A business career with Mercantile and General Reinsurance Company took him to London, South Africa, Manila and Hong Kong.

His retirement in 1989 saw him move to a cottage in Burgh-next-Aylsham, although his working life was by no means over.

He travelled to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta as a special correspondent for the EDP and was invited by the Olympic Committee to the 2000 Games in Sydney.

Locally he took roles at North Walsham Rugby Club, including vice president and membership secretary. In this latter role he was credited with virtually trebling the membership list over nearly ten years, for which he was awarded life membership of the club.

Mr Buchanan's wife Jeanne and two children, James and Joanna, survive him.

t service of thanksgiving will be held at St Mary's Church, Burgh, on April 18 at 2pm.

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