The Greatest: The Times and Life of Beryl Burton – extract

(Image credit: Youcaxton)

The world championships in East Germany in the summer of 1960 came at a golden moment in Burton's career, at the end of another spectacular season of domination and self-discovery. Her spring campaign began with a two-week trip to race with a Great Britain selection at the Werner Seelenbinder indoor track in East Berlin. There, Burton was shown by the top British sprinter Lloyd Binch how to ride the 60-degree 'wall of death' bankings – a far cry from the gentle slopes of outdoor tracks such as Herne Hill. 

'A wonderful trip,' she wrote, 'with a big reception [every night] where tables groaned under the weight of beautifully presented food.' Not to mention secret service 'heavies' who kept tabs on her and the sprinter Jean Dunn whenever they ventured into the city.

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