Respected statistician and commentator Peter Matthews dies at the age of 78

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  • Respected statistician and commentator Peter Matthews dies at the age of 78

European Athletics is deeply saddened to hear the news that hugely respected athletics statistician and commentator Peter Matthews died on Saturday (9) at the age of 78.

Matthews was one of the foremost chroniclers of the sport as well as one of the most recognisable and authoritative voices in the commentary box for television, radio and as a stadium announcer.

At the time of his death, Matthews had edited the International Athletics Annual - an indispensable publication for media and fans alike - since 1984 as well as the weekly newsletter Athletics International since 1993, a publication he co-edited with Mel Watman until the latter’s death in 2021. 

Matthews’ career as a commentator and broadcaster spanned six decades from the late-1960s and in the latter years of his remarkable career, Matthews was a regular commentator on European Athletics’ major event live streams from 2012 to 2019. 

Matthews provided commentary for some historic moments at those championships, including Jakob Ingebrigtsen winning his first European title in the 1500m at the 2018 European Athletics Championships aged 17 and Sandra Perkovic becoming the first athlete to win five European titles in a row in the discus in Berlin 2018.

Matthews retired from commentary duties after the 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow but he continued to work tirelessly up until his death, principally as editor of International Athletics Annual and Athletics International as well as being the chairman of Great Britain’s National Union of Track Statisticians (NUTS).

For a life dedicated to athletics, Matthews was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018. 

Figures from across the athletics world paid tribute to Matthews on social media. 

Two-time world cross country silver medallist and renowned commentator Tim Hutchings said: “We can safely say that there'll be NOBODY in the sport of athletics & road running in the UK, whose life hasn't been touched by Peter to some extent, even indirectly. His knowledge & passion reached literally millions - in fact, tens of millions, if you include his commentaries.”

Sydney 2000 Olympic 400m bronze medallist-turned broadcaster and commentator Katharine Merry said: “I have known Peter my whole career. He called my races. I went onto work with him in the commentary box. RIP Peter. You will be missed by so many.”

Two-time Olympic 1500m medallist Nick Willis from New Zealand said: “Very sad. Peter was THE voice of athletics when I fell in love with the sport.”

Phil Minshull, Peter’s co-commentator on European Athletics’ major event live streams added: “The European Athletics live streams at events like the European Athletics Championships and European Athletics Indoor Championships were in their infancy a decade ago but it was an honour and a privilege to work alongside Peter.

“He brought an authority to those broadcasts and, combined with his encyclopaedic of our sport, gave them an undeniable stature and status. On a personal note, I would like to pay tribute to Peter as I learnt so much from him.”

European Athletics would like to extend our thoughts and condolences to Peter’s friends and family.

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