Full name: William "Bill" Roberts
Height: 5'8" (173 cm)
Weight: 154 lbs (70 kg)
Born: April 5, 1912 in Salford, Greater Manchester, Great Britain
Died: December 5, 2001 in Timperley, Greater Manchester, Great Britain
Affiliations: Salford Harriers, Salford (GBR)
Country: Great Britain
Medals: 1 Gold (1 Total)
After finishing second to Godfrey Rampling in the 440 yards at the 1934 British Empire Games, Bill Roberts of Salford AC took over as Europe's leading quarter-mile in 1935, winning the AAA title and all three international match events.
Roberts achieved the best performance of his career when he ran 46.8 in the 400 metres at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, finishing in fourth place only one metre behind the winner. In the relay final, Roberts' estimated 46.4 was the fastest of all the stages and made a major contribution to Britain's victory. In post-Olympic meetings, Roberts beat the American Olympics 400 metres champion Archie Williams over the first leg of the 4×440 yard relay in the British Empire vs. USA match, and five days later he met the Olympic 800 metre champion John Woodruff over 400 metres in Oslo. Woodruff set a career best of 46.8 and Roberts, in second place with 47.1 had only ever run faster in the Berlin final.
Roberts won the AAA title in 1937 and was the British Empire champion in 1938. He also won a silver medal in the 1938 British Empire Games 4×440 yards relay (with Brian MacCabe, Frank Handley, and the non-Olympian Henry Pack) and finished sixth in the 220 yards. Although he did not compete in 1939, he made a successful comeback after the war. In 1946, he finished second to the Jamaican Arthur Wint at the AAA Championships, then won the international against France, and closed the season with a silver medal in the relay (with Derek Pugh and the non-Olympians Ronald Ede and Bernard Elliot) and fifth place in the individual 400 metres at the European Championships in Oslo. After a quiet 1947 season, Roberts, in third place, was the first Briton home at the 1948 AAA Championships and was elected captain of the British team for the Olympic Games.
But the successes of Berlin were not to be repeated. The 36-year-old Roberts was eliminated in the second round of the individual 400 metres and despite a fine leg in the relay heats he narrowly failed to take Britain through to the final. Roberts finally retired at the end of the season and concentrated on his work with the family furniture business.
Personal Bests: 220y – 21.5 (1938); 400 – 46.87 (1936).
|1936 Summer||24||Berlin||Athletics||Men's 400 metres||Great Britain||GBR||4|
|1936 Summer||24||Berlin||Athletics||Men's 4 × 400 metres Relay||Great Britain||GBR||1||Gold|
|1948 Summer||36||London||Athletics||Men's 400 metres||Great Britain||GBR||4 h2 r2/4|
|1948 Summer||36||London||Athletics||Men's 4 × 400 metres Relay||Great Britain||GBR||3 h1 r1/2|
|1936 Summer||24||Berlin||Athletics||Great Britain||Final||4||46,8||46,87||3|
|1936 Summer||24||Berlin||Athletics||Great Britain||Semi-Finals||Heat One||2||QU||48.0|
|1936 Summer||24||Berlin||Athletics||Great Britain||Quarter-Finals||Heat One||1||QU||47.7|
|1936 Summer||24||Berlin||Athletics||Great Britain||Round One||Heat One||1||QU||48.1|
|1948 Summer||36||London||Athletics||Great Britain||Quarter-Finals||Heat Two||4||48.6|
|1948 Summer||36||London||Athletics||Great Britain||Round One||Heat Eight||2||QU||48.9|