MONTY Hillier had an outstanding career in Oxfordshire athletics, as a competitor, supporter and elder statesman.

He won a host of awards on the track and inspired generations of young people to follow him into the sport.

He was instrumental in setting up Oxford City Athletic Club after the Second World War and was its first captain.

Monty showed little interest in athletics in his early years at Cowley St John Boys’ School in East Oxford – his first race was a cross-country event in 1924 when he was 14.

It wasn’t until he got a job at Morris Motors and joined the company sports club that his career took off.

In his second year, on the company sports day, he won the mile and came second in the half-mile – he was on his way.

He became so keen to do well that to keep fit, he ran every morning from his home in North Oxford to work at Cowley and then ran back at night.

He joined Oxford YMCA Athletics Club and achieved more success, including winning a 5,000-metre race with 300 yards to spare on his first visit overseas to Germany in 1934.

He often said his proudest record was to hold the Oxfordshire AAA three-mile championship from 1937 to 1953.

Another achievement he liked to talk about was the part he played in setting up Oxford Ladies Athletic Club in 1946 and the Oxford City Athletic Club the following year.

At the inaugural meeting of the latter at the Wheatsheaf pub in High Street, Oxford, he was elected the club’s first captain.

He was particularly proud to lead his team to Holland, to the city of Leiden, which had just become Oxford’s first twin city. He marked the occasion by winning a three-mile race easily.

In 1953, with the three-mile and six-mile county championships under his belt, he decided to give up competitive running, leave Morris Motors and become a publican.

He ran three pubs – the Red Lion at Tetsworth, the Friar Bacon at Cutteslowe, and the Three Horseshoes at Garsington – but athletics remained firmly in his sights.

He kept fit in retirement, running eight miles a day until 1983, and even took part in an Oxford fun run.

He was regarded as the elder statesman of Oxfordshire athletics and was often called upon to grace major events and present trophies.

In 1996, he attended a dinner to celebrate the city athletic club’s 50th anniversary and was made an honorary vice-president of the Multisport Club, a national organisation set up to promote sport throughout the country.

Monty, who died in 2001 aged 89, once said: “Athletics has given me a lot of happiness.”