Tribute to Mr Andy Coogan, BEM. WW2 hero, Japanese prisoner of war and local running coach who died this week just a few weeks short of his 100th birthday. #hero #britishathletics #olympics #torchbearer #olympics2012 #coach #giantamongstmen #carnoustie #scotland #rip
Tributes flooding in on the OurCarnoustie Facebook page.
His life.... Andy, was born in Springburn, Glasgow, where he was educated, and then became a painter and decorator.
He was a Billy Whizz of a kid, always on the go, scrounging, selling on, running errands, making sixpence here, a shilling there. The day he showed he could outrun the fastest local policeman, he was invited to take up athletics as a serious pastime and joined the Maryhill Harriers, one of Scotland’s oldest athletics clubs and a breeding ground for champions.
His National Service was as a Signalman with the Royal Artillery. He was held prisoner by the Japanese for three-and-a-half years and was held only 20 miles from Nagasaki, where the second atomic bomb was detonated. Sadly this imprisonment and terrible treatment he received brought an end to his Olympic dreams.
At the age of 95 his story was published in the book 'Tomorrow You Die', published by Mainstream (2012). However, it is as an athlete that he is better know to the people of Carnoustie.
His career includes running in the Commonwealth Games. He trained many young runners, and took great interest in athletics.
Andy was also a golfer (and caddie) in Carnoustie. When in his 80s, while he was caddying, he found himself carrying the clubs for the Japanese ambassador. Here was his chance to speak his mind about all he had endured during the war, to get the justifiable hatred off his chest, to return some of the contempt dished out to him. He stayed silent, out of natural dignity and principle. 'Bitterness and hatred are self-destructive,' explained this gentle and humble man.