SOUTHAMPTON’S athletics great Todd Bennett has lost his battle with cancer.

The former World indoor 400m record holder, who celebrated his 51st birthday earlier this month, passed away at home after a six-month fight against the illness.

A Southampton AC statement said: “We are very sad to announce that Todd Bennett has passed away at home after a six-month battle with cancer.

“Todd was dedicated to the sport of athletics during his life as an athlete, coach and team manager and was an inspiration to a huge number of young athletes, and school children who he coached and supported.

“Todd had considerable success as an athlete, holding the World Indoor 400m record and winning medals in the 400m and 4 x 400m relays at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and European Championships and was part of a successful era in British athletics and 400m running in particular.

“Following his retirement as an athlete he encouraged many to take up and participate in the sport he loved. “Vanessa, his wife, and children Aaron and Daena will miss him dearly.

“Details of his funeral arrangements will follow.”

Todd Anthony Bennett was born on July 6, 1962 in Southampton. He won the 400m title at the European Junior Championships in 1981 and competed for Great Britain in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, winning a silver medal in the 4 x 400m relay alongside Kriss Akabusi, Garry Cook and Philip Brown.

Bennett was European Indoor Champion over 400m in both 1985 and 1987, and also won a silver at the World Indoor Championships in 1985.

The same year, he became the World indoor record holder for 400m in 45.46 seconds. Bennett competed in three Commonwealth Games, winning gold in the 4 x 400m relay in 1982. He was runner-up in the 200m four years later.

On retiring from competitive action, Bennett was involved with the Great Britain Junior athletics team and for four years was their team manager