FROM ecstasy to tragedy in just 12 months, Alfred Tysoe’s Olympic exploits will leave him forever an East Lancashire sporting hero.

The Padiham-born athlete stormed to a double gold medal in the Paris Olympics in 1900 but less than a year later he became severely ill with pleurisy and died, aged 27.

Tysoe was born in the Old Vicarage in Padiham and moved to Lancaster as a child. He originally ran for Skerton Harriers before being lured to their Victorian rivals, Salford Harriers, in 1897.

The amateur runner might not get mentioned in the same breath as Seb Coe, Steve Ovett or Steve Cram, but the middle-distance runner was certainly the man to beat at the 1900 Olympics in Paris. Just a fortnight before the second staging of the modern games he had broken the world 800 yards record, crossing the finishing line in one minute and 58 seconds.

And in the French capital he eased to victory ahead of his nearest rival, American John Cregan, in just over two minutes. He followed that up with a gold medal as part of the British team in the 5,000m team race.

After his tragic death, he was originally buried in a pauper’s grave in Blackpool’s Layton Cemetery but a memorial was later erected by supporters in his honour.

Bob Clark, a former Padiham town mayor, said there was a file on Tysoe in the Padiham Archive, which his wife Ann runs at the town hall.

“There’s not a lot we know about him because he only lived to the age of 27 but we do know some things,” said Clark.