Tributes have been paid to the legendary athletics coach Lloyd Cowan, who is believed to have died from Covid-19 at the age of 58.
Cowan, who had suffered from underlying health issues for several years, specialised as a 110m and 400m hurdler before guiding several stars to global success including Christine Ohuruogu, the hurdler Andy Turner, and his son Dwayne Cowan.
The 1992 Olympic gold medallist Linford Christie led the tributes, saying the loss of Cowan had “hurt more than I could have ever imagined”, adding: “RIP Lloyd Cowan. The space you left cannot be filled. My condolences to all who knew and loved you.”
The London 2012 long jump champion, Greg Rutherford, also praised Cowan’s coaching ability and his bubbly personality, saying: “Gutted to hear Lloyd Cowan has passed away. He was a massive personality and so helpful to so many (including myself) when coming through the ranks. Never again will I hear ‘Ruddy’ shouted in his distinctive voice and his big smile when meeting.”
Cowan will be most remembered for guiding Ohuruogu to the 400m Olympic title in 2008, and three further Olympic medals including 400m silver on home soil at London 2012, along with two other 400m world titles in 2007 and 2013.
He also coached the world championship 110m hurdles bronze medallist, Andy Turner, as well as his son Dwayne, who he proudly watched secure world and European 4x400m relay bronze in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Turner, who also won Commonwealth and European 110m hurdles, said he was “absolutely heartbroken” at the news: “12 good years with this man, I owe him everything. Gutted.”
In a glowing tribute the world 200m champion, Dina Asher-Smith, said Cowan had changed so many people’s lives. “Today is a very sad day for our community,” she wrote on Twitter. “Heartbreaking news. God bless you Lloyd. You changed so many people’s lives, brought light and laughter to even more. We were so blessed to have known you and to have been a part of your story. Such a wonderful, generous and hilarious man.
“There aren’t enough superlatives and we will miss you so, so much. Champs will never be the same. My mum often left him ‘in loco parentis’ on my early trips as a senior. My thoughts are with his family, friends and of course his athletes at this tough time.”
The 400m runner Martyn Rooney, who ran with Cowan’s son Dwayne in their relay triumphs, added: “RIP Lloyd Cowan MBE – always a good man, looked after me on the circuit through my youth and always there for guidance if I needed it. Best wishes to Dwayne and the rest of your family.”
Cowan’s family have yet to comment, but several sources from within the sport have told the Guardian the track coach had died overnight from Covid issues.