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Tim Benjamin

Cardiff-born Tim is one of Britain’s finest 400m runners of all time. He retired in 2009 at the relatively young age of 27 after struggling with injuries for some time.

His best time of 44.56 secs set in 2005 whilst finishing second in the World Athletics final is just 2 tenths of a second behind UK and Welsh record holder Iwan Thomas. He is the sixth fastest UK 400m runner of all time (as at the end of 2012), just one hundredth of a second faster than fellow Welsh star Jamie Baulch.

Tim’s finest race came earlier in 2005 when at Crystal Palace he beat the 2004 Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner, with a then personal best time of 44.75secs, beating the 45 second barrier for the first time. He ended 2005 as the European number one after setting another personal best of 44.74 when finishing second to Jamaica’s Brandon Simpson at the Brussels Grand Prix.

2005 was without a doubt his finest year, where he was the highest ranked British athlete in any event in the world rankings, with second place in the 400m behind Wariner. At the Helsinki 400m World Championships that year he placed an excellent fifth for the highest placing of a British male at the Championships and then ran the first leg for the British 4x400m team, which narrowly missed out on the bronze medals by just three quarters of a second.

Altogether he competed in eleven major championships for Great Britain or Wales, winning four gold, five silver and two bronze – an outstanding achievement.

His finest performance for Wales came in the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games. There he ran a magnificent first leg in the greatest Welsh 4 x 400m relay team which took the silver medal finishing just one hundredth of a second behind the winners, England to set a Welsh record of 3 mins 00.41 which was one of the fastest times in the world that year.

Before migrating to the senior scene he was an outstanding junior athlete moving through the ranks of Welsh athletics, taking six Welsh age group titles between 1996 and 1999. Remarkably, he won the UK under 17 indoor 200m title in 1997 whilst still only 14 years of age. Surprisingly, he never won a Welsh senior 400m title, but took the 200m in 2002 beating 1998 European silver medallist Doug Turner by two-hundredths in 21.73.

He burst onto the international scene in 1999, when he won the inaugural World Youth 200m title in Poland, in a UK under 17 record of 20.72 secs, a time that ranked him the ninth fastest in Britain irrespective of age – an outstanding performance for a 17 year-old. Later in the year, he took the 200m silver at the European Junior Championships in Latvia, in a wind assisted 20.60 secs.

In 2000 he gave a clear indication of his potential by winning the bronze medal in the Santiago World Junior Championships 200m with 20.94 secs and collecting a gold medal as part of Britain’s sprint relay squad.

The following year in his first year as a serious 400m runner he won the European Junior 400m title in Grosseto, Italy in a personal best 46.43, also collecting a gold medal in the sprint relay and silver in the 4 x 400m. He improved his personal best to 46.10 in the Edinburgh International Games a few weeks later to end his first season as a 400m runner as fifth fastest Briton, just five hundredths of a second ahead of Cardiff club mate Jamie Baulch.

He took a bronze medal as part of Britain’s 4x400m team at the 2003 World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, and won a silver medal (45.86) in the European under 23 Championships in Poland in a season where he was ranked as British number two behind Swansea University student Danny Caines, but had surgery to remove a tendon in his knee in at the end of the year. This seemed to work as he returned to establish himself as Britain’s top 400m runner in 2004, winning the European Cup in 45.37, the AAA (UK) title in 45.58 and setting a personal best of 45.04 for third at the London Grand Prix. His only appearance in the Olympics was in Athens where he reached the semi-finals of the 400m and was part of Britain’s team that finished 5th

Following a winter frustrated by further injury, he was bitterly disappointed to have to withdraw from the Welsh 2006 Commonwealth Games team in Melbourne. But he returned to form to finish 6th in the individual 400m and run an outstanding final leg to secure the 4 x 400m silver medals for Britain in the European Championships in Gothenburg, in a team that also contained Cardiff club-mate Rhys Williams.

He won the AAA (UK) 400m title four times including three successive years between 2004 and 2006, and in his last full season in 2007, he was ranked Britain’s number one for the fourth successive year in the prestigious UK merit rankings produced by that doyen of athletics statisticians, Peter Matthews, and published in the British Athletics Annual of that year.

Altogether in his career, Tim won eleven medals in international championships events, including four gold:

1999:     World Youth 200m
2000:     World Junior 4 x 100m
2001:     European Junior 400m
2001:     European Junior 4 x 100m

Born in Cardiff in May 1982, he is a former pupil at Peterston-Super-Ely Primary School and Radyr Comprehensive School. Tim is a product of Cardiff AAC and that very fine nursery of athletics – the Welsh Schools organisation where he won many titles through the various age groups.

Tim retired in 2009, after a glittering career, being ranked fourth in Britain that year and was inducted into The Welsh Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012, rightly joining the all-time greats of Welsh athletics.

Clive Williams