FORMER international race walker and Bournemouth postman George Williams has died aged 82.

Born in London one of three children, George's athletics career started with running. At the age of five, he used to run the three miles to and from school so he could spend his bus fare on a bun.

He later joined an athletics club but had to pretend to be 17 so he could take part in races. At 17 he was encouraged to try race walking and became the first person to break seven miles in one hour at his first attempt and within six months he had won every national junior title.

George went on to represent his country, winning an individual bronze and a team gold at the 1961 World Race Walking Championships.

During his time as a world-class athlete, George was an early exponent of recovery training. While most distance athletes focused their training on clocking up miles on roads, George did most of his training on the athletics track, interspersing fast walking with periods of going more slowly. He then cut recovery times until he could go the distance at a consistently fast speed.

In 1962 George gave up race walking and moved to Bournemouth.

"I came down to Bournemouth and found the track was closed in the winter so I couldn't train on it. I got married and couldn't afford the expenses," said George when he was interviewed by the Echo in 2000.

He took up running instead and was considered for the marathon in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He also coached Paul Nihill, a former boxer who took up race walking because he had damaged a knee. Nihill won the 50km silver medal at Tokyo.

In 1983 George, now working for Bournemouth Post Office, returned to competitive walking. He became the first postman outside London to win the Post Office national six mile walk and his success encouraged his workmates to form a walking club.

George earned the nickname Bournemouth's 'Flying Postie' as he continued to compete successfully in race walking in Europe and nationally.

In 1986 he did a race walk around a circuit at King's Park in aid of British Epilepsy Association.

Later he worked as a fitness instructor at the Littledown Sports Centre and published his autobiography 'Run, Rabbit, Run Rabbit, Run, Run Run' in 2010.

George died at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital after a short illness on December 24. His funeral was held at Poole Crematorium on February 23.