For 82-year-old Patrick Rowley, this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro were not as exciting as they may have been for some of Team GB’s other supporters.

Rio 2016 was the first Olympics Mr Rowley has not reported on since he first went to Rome in 1960.

The grandfather-of-10, of Oak Hill Crescent, Woodford Green, wrote about 14 summer Olympics over nearly 70 years.

He got his first job as an Olympic correspondent at the age of just 14, when his cricket club captain took him on for work experience at his local newspaper.

Mr Rowley said: “My cricket captain was also editor of the Middlesex Chronicle and when the games came to London in 1948 he told me to write a schoolboy’s view of the Olympics.

“That was when I reported on my first hockey final. I absolutely loved it.”

He missed a few games when he was finishing college and got called up for national service, but returned for the 1960 games in Rome. 

After a few years coaching international hockey, Mr Rowley decided to focus on his journalism career and became deputy sports editor at The Observer before moving on to The Sunday Times.

He said: “As a hockey reporter, I was always just a frustrated coach.
“I just love the game, when I go out on the field to play, I don’t have a worry in the world.”

After 11 Israeli Olympians were taken hostage and killed in a terror attack on the Munich Games in 1972, Mr Rowley says the games changed forever.

He added: “The security has become so tight, you can barely get to the players to speak to them, even as a reporter.

But the whole games changed when the competitors turned pro and got all these sponsorship deals.

“With drugs cheating tainting things these days, they’ll go to any lengths to win.

“I preferred it when everyone was amateur and competed out of sheer love of their sport.”

Mr Rowley’s favourite games before they returned to London four years ago, were in Sydney in 2000, where he says the volunteers’ enthusiasm was “fantastic”.

Over his career, he has met some of the greatest athletes of all time, including Seb Coe when he won the 1,500m race in Moscow in 1980 and Muhammad Ali at a hockey competition in Melbourne.

More recently, he has interviewed Usain Bolt and is good friends with the first ever same-sex married couple to compete together at the Olympics, Team GB hockey’s Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh.

Mr Rowley said he was “delighted” with our women’s hockey team’s Olympic Gold, but saddened by the men’s failure to get past the group stage in Rio.

Mr Rowley still plays hockey every week for Waltham Forest, Southgate and England’s over 60s team.