SPORTS legend Brendan Foster is celebrating his 70th birthday today.

The Great North Run founder, who was born in the Hebburn, now South Tyneside, on January 12, 1948, went on to become a world record-breaking Olympic athlete.

Foster was educated at St Joseph’s RC Grammar School in Hebburn, the University of Sussex and Carnegie College of Physical Education, but returned to his old school as a chemistry teacher.

His athletics career took over and in 1973 he broke the world record for two miles at Crystal Palace with a time of 8:13.68.

Foster won the gold medal in the 5,000 metres at the 1974 European Championships and a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch with a time of 13:14.6 that year.

He won bronze in the 10,000 metres at the 1976 Summer Olympics, was honoured with an MBE and went on to win the 10,000 metres at the 1978 Commonwealth Games, two years later.

Foster then broke the 3,000m World Record on his home track, Gateshead International Stadium, with a time of 7:35.1 and he was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

In 1977, he helped organise the Gateshead Fun Run, a pioneering running event, and in 1981, he founded the Great North Run.

The annual race, Newcastle to South Shields, has become the biggest running event in the country, and one of the biggest half marathons in the world.

Foster was Chancellor of Leeds Metropolitan University from 2005 to 2009 and was given a CBE in the 2008 New Year Honours.

In December 2016, Foster was given the Freedom of the City of Newcastle, the city’s highest honour, and last August, in recognition to his major contributions to the advancements of athletics, at a ceremony in London, Foster was awarded the IAAF highest award, the Golden Order of Merit.