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Tribute: Army Pentathlete Peter Whiteside (1952-2020) (REME)

Peter Whiteside: 3rd June 1952– 14th April 2020

Peter was a top-class athlete whose long career spanned the 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s and included competing for Great Britain at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. He was an infectious enthusiast whose excitement at competing at the Games was nearly his undoing in the swimming event. “I only realised I had gone out too fast when I was half-way down the first length” he said. “I then did the slowest ten strokes of my entire life!”

Peter was the 1985 British Modern Pentathlon champion and winner of multiple national team titles. Originally in the Royal Air Force, he transferred to the Army and served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) training for many years at Arborfield Garrison near Reading.

Faith and religion became a central part of Peter’s life and he indicated how significant winning the British championships in 1985 had been in cementing a sense of higher purpose in his life. Thereafter, he increasingly sought to positively impact the lives of young people through fostering, education and coaching as well as in the local church community.

On retirement from the army Peter became a fencing coach supporting the development of the next generation of young athletes. He coached at Reading fencing club where he is remembered to this day as a tough and always positive taskmaster. Peter acted as Director of Fencing at numerous modern pentathlon competitions including the 2001 UIPM world championships and several World Cup events.

UIPM President Dr Klaus Schormann said: “Peter was a fine athlete who worked hard to get the best out of himself and achieved some excellent results, of which he could be very proud.

“We are grateful for his contribution to our sport as a competitor at the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980, as a role model for other athletes and later as a fencing coach at numerous Modern Pentathlon competitions.”

Janusz Peciak, Montreal 1976 Olympic champion and UIPM Executive Board Member for Sport, added: “I competed with Peter in Moscow 1980 and at the World Championships in Budapest in 1979. He was always a very happy and funny guy. God pray for him.”