Malcolm Brown

Presentation address by Mr Stewart Ross


Malcolm Brown is a truly world-class coach who has dedicated his career to changing lives through sport, enabling others to reach the highest peaks of Olympic sport and to fulfil their personal potential. It is for this transformative role that we recognise him today.

Malcolm was born and educated in London on the route of the London Marathon, and had a passion for sport from a young age. He came to the University of Leeds in the 1970s to study for an MA in Physical Education. Regrettably his own running ambition was blighted by overtraining, a lack of common sense and perpetual curiosity – a great grounding for a successful coach!

During a thirty-year career in four different universities, Malcolm has had an unwavering commitment to seek out knowledge to inform his coaching. He has sought to learn equally from erudite professors of science and from Ethiopian distance runners, and has always seen it as his role to impart knowledge to athletes so that ultimately they can be responsible for their own performance.

Malcolm has coached or led teams at five Olympic Games but it has been through triathlon that he has risen to the world stage. He is the founder and current Performance Director of the world-leading Leeds Triathlon Centre, a unique partnership between universities, city council and sport’s governing bodies.

Through his work in the Centre he has coached triathletes to five Olympic medals, and eighty-nine World, Commonwealth and European medals. At the Rio Games, five of the six athletes in the GB Triathlon team were Malcolm’s athletes (three being Leeds graduates).  

Speak just for a moment or two with those he has coached, like Alistair and Johnny Brownlee, and you will understand the impact he has had on them as people as well as athletes.

Look then at the impact he has had on the universities and city – which now find themselves hosting world-class triathlon cycling and athletic events attracting many thousands of spectators (as well athletic scholars from across the world to train and study in Leeds).

And then consider his impact on sport in Leeds … through the creation of an environment in which children learn to swim, run and cycle alongside world-class athletes and dream that they too might one day be the toast of their University, their city and their country.

Malcolm’s inspirational coaching and leadership has created a genuine legacy.  

Vice-Chancellor, it is a great honour to present to you for the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Malcolm Brown.