LONG-DISTANCE runner Robert Sercombe, who competed for Great Britain in the marathon at the 1974 European Championships, has died aged 67.

Sercombe, of Malpas Road, Newport, finished 14th in Rome before winning back-to-back Welsh marathon titles in 1975 and 1976.

A former member of Newport Harriers, Sercombe recorded arguably his biggest success in 1973 when he won the Polytechnic Marathon.

“In his day, Robert was one of the top two or three marathon runners in the UK,” said friend and former South Wales Argus sports reporter Paul Tully.

“He was selected to represent Britain at the European Championships in Rome largely on the back of his success in the Polytechnic race.

“He also won the Newport to Tredegar race in 1973 and had a few good years at the top of the sport.”

Tully added: “Robert was a Malpas boy and we both went to Brynglas Primary School and what is now Newport High School.

“There was about four years between us but we were really good friends as kids, and we also lived on the same street, Brynglas Avenue.

“He was a good footballer and tennis player but athletics took over in secondary school when he really discovered how much ability he had.

“He was extremely dedicated to running and used to get dietary advice which he stuck to rigidly.

“He loved running and, in some ways, ran too much – he ended up with several injuries because of how much he would run.

“I bumped into him three of four years ago and then I heard a few months back that he was ill and in and out of hospital.

“I regret I didn’t see him before he passed away.”

He added: “Robert was a very private person but a really nice guy.”

Away from sport, Sercombe became an accountant after graduating from university in Bristol.

Cousin Paul Cockeram said: “Robert had had cancer and osteoporosis but it still came as a shock when he passed away.

“Robert was a very independent person, very religious, whose big passion was running.

“He was a lovely, quiet person who wouldn’t say boo to a goose.

“We will all miss him.”