Obituary: Stewart McCallum, 65

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Scottish athletics is mourning the death of Edinburgh Southern Harriers legend Stewart McCallum, who has died suddenly in hospital in Oxford at the age of 65.

McCallum was one of the heroes of the great club side who won the Pye Gold Cup British championship at London’s Crystal Palace in 1975, a feat no Scottish club side has remotely approached since.

Before that in the 1970s, McCallum had already become one of Scotland’s most accomplished all-round athletes.

He ended up winning six national titles in three different events – high hurdles, pole vault and decathlon –and represented Great Britain in the decathlon and 400 metres hurdles.

A former pupil of Hamilton Academy and graduate of Glasgow University, he competed for Scotland in the decathlon in the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand, and for the British team in the World Student Games in Moscow in 1975.

In all, McCallum represented Great Britain nine times, five at decathlon and four in the one-lap hurdles in which he set three Scottish records.

He also topped the Scottish rankings in five different events at various times, his other strong event being the long jump.

The biggest disappointment of McCallum’s career was in Christchurch where, had he matched his best ever total of 7335 points, set in 1973, he would have won the silver medal.

But, to his intense regret, he failed to register a clearance in the pole vault and his medal chance had gone.

Remarkably he put that setback behind him and successfully switched events to the 400 metres hurdles, three times improving the Scottish national record to a (hand-timed) best of 50.7 secs in 1976.

McCallum’s versatility was also much in demand in British League matches when he competed for Edinburgh Southern Harriers after his move to the Capital and possibly his greatest triumph came in 1975 when he helped the Scottish champions complete a famous double win in the Pye Gold Cup British final at Crystal Palace.

First he defeated the 1968 Olympic bronze medallist John Sherwood in the 400m hurdles in a fast 51.48 seconds, then contributed a rousing last lap in the men’s 4x400m relay.

The ESH club captain at the time was Alan Lorimer, who remembers a “prolific points scorer who was exceptional in relays and a fine club man, who always contributed greatly to club spirit”.

Keen to give something back to his sport, McCallum joined the board of Scottish Athletics in 2013.

He is survived by his wife Jackie and two sons Craig and Blair, the former a keen rower who competed at Henley Regatta and the latter a silver medal winner in the 200 metres at the 2012 Scottish senior championships.