Historian and statistician Quercetani passes away at the age of 97

Roberto Luigi Quercetani

Athletics historian and statistician Roberto Luigi Quercetani who served as ATFS President from 1950-1968 has passed away at the age of 97

European Athletics is saddened to hear of the passing of renowned athletics historian and statistician Roberto Luigi Quercetani who passed away on Monday (13) at the age of 97.

"I want to salute the life and contribution of Roberto Quercetani," said European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen. "He was  a man who has done athletics a great service and recorded the history and statistics of our sport for many years in the pre-internet era which will be treasured for centuries to come. May he rest in peace."

Quercetani was a founder member of the Association of Track Field Statisticians (ATFS) which formed during the European Championships in Brussels in 1950. He served as president for eighteen years from 1950 to 1968 and was the general editor of the ATFS Annuals each year until 1969.

Quercetani also started the authoritative annual World Merit Rankings for Track & Field News in 1947 - still widely considered to be the most respected and valued end-of-season rankings.

Quercetani spoke five languages - Italian, French, English, German and Spanish - and his first major work in English entitled A World History of Track and Field Athletics 1864-1964 is one of the foremost publications on the history of the sport.

His four volumes of Track & Field Performances Through the Years covering the years between 1921 and 1950 was another imperative body of work in detailing the early years of athletics.  

Quercetani also worked as a freelance journalist specialising in athletics, contributing to La Gazzetta dello Sport from 1951 as well as La Nazione, Atletica Leggera as well as Athletica Italica’s in-house magazine Atletica.

“His name will always be revered by those of us who cherish his body of work, and those who had the privilege of knowing him have lost a wise and genial friend,” said statistician and co-editor of Athletics International Mel Watman.

Quercetani is survived by his wife, Maria Luisa.