John Bryant

John Bryant (1943 – 30 April 2020) was a British journalist with a keen interest in marathons. He was the editor of The Daily Telegraph from 2005 to 2007, and also served as editor of The European. During his career, he also edited The Sunday Correspondent, was deputy editor of The Times and executive editor of the Daily Mail. He helped to establish the London Marathon, with Chris Brasher.

John Bryant: early and personal life

Bryant was born in 1943 and grew up in the village of Haselbury Plunknett in Somerset. He attended Sexey’s School before studying law at Queen’s College, Oxford, where he was an Oxford Blue.

Bryant was described as a “reluctant interviewee”, and quietly spoken, by those around him. He resided in Kingston upon Thames.

Athletics career

Bryant was a county running champion and coached, among others, Olympic athlete Zola Budd, accompanying her to the 1984 Olympics. In the 1950s, he was closely involved with major players in achieving the four-minute mile, and developed a relationship with Roger Bannister.

After forming a friendship with the track and field athlete Chris Brasher, Bryant played a part in developing the modern-day London Marathon. He completed his 24th marathon in April 2016, and thanked his team at a reception held near Tower Bridge at the end of the run. By the end of his life he had participated in 29 London Marathons in total, some after being hit by a car during a training run and being told that he would never run again.

Bryant was a long-time captain of the world’s oldest cross-country running club, the Thames Hare and Hounds.

Journalism career

Bryant began his journalism career at the Edinburgh Evening News.

He was executive editor of the Daily Mail in the 1980s, and consultant editor and features editor, before joining The Times as their managing editor in 1986, where he wrote a regular column on sport. He was promoted to deputy editor, a role he returned to after editing The Sunday Correspondent and The European.

On 18 November 2005, Martin Newland resigned as editor of The Daily Telegraph, and the Telegraph Media Group immediately hired Bryant to oversee the paper’s move to new offices in Victoria, London.

Since leaving The Daily Telegraph, Bryant wrote a number of books and articles with sporting and marathon backgrounds, including a piece in The Guardian about Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile in 1954. He became chair of the Press Association Trust in 2008.

John Bryant sadly died on 30 April 2020 at his home in Surrey, following a “long illness”. He was survived by his wife, two sons and six grandchildren.