Interview with Stan Greenberg - JC Legends
A measure of Stan Greenberg’s reputation is the title of his latest book. His publishers insisted that it be called Stan Greenberg’s Olympic Almanack, confident that his name in the title would guarantee higher sales. The book is Greenberg’s eighth consecutive compendium of Olympic facts and figures.
Greenberg has been an avid enthusiast and statistician of athletics for most of his 81 years. His love of the sport was kindled through attending the 1948 Olympics, and from that time he began compiling results and submitting them to Athletics Weekly. ITV brought him on board in 1964 to ensure they got their Olympic facts right, and in 1968 he became athletics statistician for the BBC.
Greenberg said: “Throughout this time I was fitting my athletics commitments around a full-time job outside of sport; first as a researcher and librarian at Lever Brothers (later to become Unilever), then as a transport librarian at the GLC.
“In 1976 I became Sports Editor of the Guinness Book of Records, but when I turned 50 in 1981 I decided that I needed to scale back to just one job. Because I loved the opportunities for travel it afforded, my choice was to become full-time athletics statistician for the BBC.
“My job was to ensure that at every race and at all points as the race progressed, the live commentator had in front of him every fact about every competitor.”
Greenberg travelled to 50 countries in this role, which he held until 1994. Nowadays Greenberg spends more time at the Friern Barnet home that he has shared with his wife, Carole, since they married 51 years ago, but he remains as busy as ever, scouring the internet in order to produce UK and Commonwealth ranking lists that are in demand from journalists and enthusiasts around the world. He is probably the only person producing Commonwealth lists, which become increasingly important as the Commonwealth Games approach; they will be held in Glasgow in 2014.
Greenberg is not shy in extrapolating from statistic to prediction, and he believes that Team GB athletes will win 10 Olympic medals in London.
He is equally upbeat in summing up his life. “Athletics has always been my hobby and I have been lucky enough to make it my career. I have travelled the world and met all kinds of people. It has all been a wonderful journey.”
Written by Brian Sacks, the JC’s Athletics Correspondent