ATHLETE and double Olympian Fred Norris has died, aged 85.

The long distance runner, who combined his job as a miner in Tyldesley with athletics, died in hospital following a fall last month.

Fred, of Sale Lane, Tyldesley, finished seventh in the 10,000 metres at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, a race won by the legendary Emil Zatopek. He also competed in the marathon at the Melbourne games, four years later Fred claimed he got to the top with the help of jam butties, determination and the love of his late wife, Doris.

He was born in Primrose Street, Tyldesley, and left school at 14 to work in a machine shop. He played football for Sale Lane United and Winton United.

He moved to Cleworth Hall Colliery, Tyldesley, working on underground maintenance, and running never crossed his mind until he watched the 1948 London Olympics on a cinema newsreel, including victory by Zatopek in the 10,000 metres.

He went onto the football field and ran four laps in four minutes, encouraging him, at the age of 26, to join Leigh Harriers.

Four years later as a Bolton Harrier, he was facing Zatopek in the 1952 Olympic final.

Fred was a familiar sight on the streets of Tyldesley, pounding the streets from 5am before a tough shift 900ft down the pit and then dashing home to wash and change before reeling off another eight to 10 miles.

During his career Fred clocked up 54 English, British, Commonwealth and European records and at the age of 37 he set the 20, 21 and 22 mile world best times and the two hour world distance record.

In 1959 he was international cross country champion but his hopes of a place in the Rome Olympics in 1960 were ended by injury.

After emigrating to America he won 43 of his 44 races in a three year period before retiring.

Son Ed, who lives in Hawaii, followed in his father's footsteps and won the American marathon championship in 1968.

Fred continued to run until the age of 42 and in 1986 he and Doris, who died four years ago, returned to Sale Lane.