Obituary: Ray Roseman

first Jewish four-minute miler who just kept on running


The first Sussex four-minute miler, Ray Roseman, has died at the age of 79 in Bangkok.

It was in 1969 that Roseman, who had pacemaked many top British middle-distance runners to their “four minutes”,  at last broke through the magic barrier, himself.

He was the first Jewish athlete to break four minutes for the mile in July, 1969 at Motspur Park, South London, ranking him at the time the 20th fastest miler in the world.

Roseman joined South London Harriers when at school at Selsden and remained with them for most of his career. He also became a member of the Brighton & Hove Club, and supported Sussex championships right from his early years.

Ray was one of the five children, of Norman and Edna Roseman (née Glass) with his siblings, Rayfel, Sandra, Jane, Jon and Wendy. He was educated at Rosemead Preparatory School in Streatham and then moved to Selsdon Secondary School. His running career began here, when he refused to play football and was made to run around the football field as a punishment while his classmates played. He then went into the school cross country and broke the record by many minutes. He was seen by a runner who helped him join South London Harriers and from there he just ran!

He quickly made an impression, winning his first Sussex Youths cross country championship in the 1950s, and in the 1950s and 1960s he amassed a host of Sussex titles both over the country and on the track. Many of those Sussex titles were accompanied by Championship records.

He was tall and thin and enlivened many a mile race with his uninhibited running – on one occasion zipping through a 54.8 third quarter. He was Britain’s third fastest miler in 1963, running a time of 4.01.06.

Roseman made several appearances in Great Britain/England teams and after several clockings inside 4:01 he clocked 3.59.08 in July 1969. However, instead of this being a stepping stone to greater things, Achilles problems put paid to his career. The injury after winning the Maccabiah Games 1500m in record time in 1969 was a suitable swansong. He proudly accepted his medal from then Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion.

Although he returned to training in 1970 he was never to compete again but remained in close contact with the sport until his eventual move to Thailand. He still remains eighth on the Sussex one mile Alltime list and won a total of 12 Sussex track titles between 800 and 5,000 metres, as well as one Southern Counties and one Counties Athletic Union (CAU) mile title.

His marriage to Marie-Louise nee Hansson ended in divorce. He is survived by his two children Martin and Rachael.


Ray Roseman: born  May 19, 1939. Died November 23, 2018

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive