Steve Cram CBE, one of the UK’s most well-known sporting individuals and now TV presenter, athletics commentator and coach has been named Honorary Doctor of Science at Edge Hill University.
In his speech, he described the occasion of being given an honorary degree as a bit of of a “Busman’s holiday” as Steve is currently the Chancellor of the University of Sunderland and is more used to giving the awards, than receiving them.
But in his speech he was able to offer words of wisdom to today’s graduates that come with the “benefit of age and experience.”
He said: “My life went in a direction I hadn’t planned. You don’t know what’s ahead of you as I’m here today as a result of running circles around a track.”
In the 1980s, Steve who was nicknamed “The Jarrow Arrow” after his hometown, was one of the world’s dominant middle-distance runners along with fellow Britons Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett.
He was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1983 and set world records in the 1500m, 2000m and the mile during a 19-day period in 1985. He was the first man to run 1500m in under three minutes and 30 seconds, and won the 1500m gold medal at the 1983 World Championships and the 1500m silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games
Most recently Steve was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours, for services to sport. Now retired, Steve has turned to television presenting, athletics commentating as well as motivational speaking and coaching.
He shared with today’s graduates some examples of advice he’d been given during his training by his coach Jimmy Hedley.
He said: “I didn’t turn up to training one night, it was cold, Top of the Pops was on. It was one of the first times I hadn’t turned up but a couple of days later he (Jimmy) pinned me up against the wall in front of everyone else and said ‘Why weren’t you here?’
“I replied ‘Oh come on Jimmy, what difference does a day make?’ and he came back with a line I’ll never forget: ‘One day doesn’t matter bonny lad, but every day does.’
“I was 14 and it went over my head. But what he meant was being consistent and sticking to what you do. Yes, today is not that important, but each day is going past and you’re not going to get them back. As an athlete in training that was important. That stuck with me in later years.”
Steve has now put his expertise and knowledge to use in setting up his own training camp in order to give more people the chance to experience what would normally only be accessible to elite athletes.
In addition, Steve is a key advisor to the British Athletics Endurance Programme and individually coaches up-and-coming athletes Thomas Lancashire and Ross Murray and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Laura Weightman.
He added: “I stand here today because I had something that I had a real passion for. You are graduating today in the Faculty of Arts and Science and you are the people who will forge the futures for others in years to come, to perhaps change other people’s lives.
“It is all about how you think, your attitude. It is about belief; follow that passion.
“If you do that and use the hard work and tenacity you have already demonstrated, you will be successful.”