Hirsute European 400m champion Martyn Rooney talks track and field beards, and reveals why he is on the verge of changing his look.


“Why do I like beards? Well, I think it keeps me warm! Maybe I'm just lazy. I often had stubble on my face anyway, so I let it grow. The person who got me into growing a beard was my fellow Great Britain 400m runner Andrew Steele back in 2010/2011. He had the Shoreditch Beard look down to a tee!

“I can't speak for other countries, but beard growth in the UK has become like an industry in itself in recent times.”

Spent the evening doing some good beard work with @martynrooney #beard #london #facialhair #400m #instagrambeards #instagramhub

A photo posted by Andrew Steele (@andrewsteele) on

Hairy business

“Athletics has its fair share of beards. US middle-distance runner Will Leer's is incredible, so impressive. When I first saw it, I just wanted to grab it. It was epic. The beard seems to really fit his face [note, Leer can also grow a mean moustache].

“The beard also really suited the Australian discus thrower Julian Wruck with the long dark hair. If he wasn't throwing, it looked like he'd be picking up a piece of wood and building a house.

“LaShawn Merritt also has a good beard, but one guy who is very serious about his beard is Mike Edwards [a British 2.22m high jumper]. He has a sculpted beard and he is involved in his own beard grooming company called Apothecary 87, which has more than 80,000 followers on Instagram.

“In terms of my what my rivals think, I once discussed with Merritt about how he was trying to grow it and compared it with mine. Luguelin Santos hardly speaks any English, but he once came up to me pointed to my beard and said ‘Osama’ – comparing my beard with that of Osama bin Laden.”

Martyn Rooney at the European Championships (Getty Images)

Rooney opted for a trim following the Commonwealth Games and ahead of the Euros

All or nothing

“I have done Movember a couple of times before, but I'm not a great fan of the moustache. I am more of a beard man. I did take Movember very seriously and it is a great cause, but I'm just not very good at asking people for money!

“My wife, Kate, is a little sick of the beard, but I said I'm going to grow it until the BBC Sports Personality of the Year on December 14  and then I will get rid of it in time for Christmas. 

“Will it make a reappearance? We'll see. I have a new passport this year and I'm pictured with the full beard, so maybe a might have to re-grow it in time for when I next travel overseas. So come warm weather training in the New Year it might be back!”