Alan Pennington joined Berkhamsted School as a boarder in 1931. He was an excellent all-round sportsman, representing the school in both the 1st XI Cricket and 1st XV Rugby teams, but his particular talent was for athletics.
Alan was awarded the Victor Ludorum prize for the best athlete three years running.
After leaving Berkhamsted, Alan attended Oxford University where he continued to excel on the track and was President of Athletics in his final year. Alan was unbeaten in the Oxford and Cambridge team tour to the USA in 1937. He also set the British junior record of 49.6 seconds for the 440 yard sprint.
In 1936, Alan was a member of the British team at the Berlin Olympic Games, where he competed against Jesse Owens in the 100m semi-final. An injury to his Achilles tendon prevented Alan from progressing into the finals. After the Olympics, Alan won numerous medals in competitions across Europe, including a bronze in the 200m at the 1938 European Championships.