1. Lots of Australian racewalkers regularly break World Masters records but only a few have broken Open World Records. Who was the most recent Australian walker to break a racewalking open world record - name, year, venue and time?
Victorian walker Nathan Deakes broke the World record
for the 50km
Race Walk in Geelong, on Sunday 2ndDecember 2006. Deakes recorded a
time of 3:35:47 to take 16 seconds off the World record previously set
by Poland's World and Olympic champion Robert Korzeniowski at the 9th
IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Paris, France in 2003 (3:36.03).
Read the A.A. report at https://www.worldathletics.org/news/news/deakes-destroys-world-record-for-50km-race-wa.
Read my Heel & Toe newsletter report at http://www.vrwc.org.au/newsletters/heelandtoe-2007-num10.pdf.
It is the best walk I have ever witnessed in person.
2. The 100m rule allows for a walker to be disqualified by the Chief Judge in the last 100m of a race. Did you know that in one major championship, this was done, the athlete lodged an appeal and it was successful, allowing the walker to take the bronze medal? Details please.
The men's 20 kilometres walk event at the 2007 World Championships in Athletics took place on August 26, 2007 in the streets of Osaka, Japan. The event featured a very controversial finish as Paquillo Fernandez, who finished second after overtaking Hatem Ghoula in the final straight, was disqualified after the race for lifting. However, following an appeal by the Spanish team the same day, video evidence was examined and Fernandez was found to have walked in compliance with the rules. He was thus awarded the silver medal. The gold went to 33 year old Ecuadorian Jefferson Perez who clinched an unprecedented hat-trick of world titles with a flawless demonstration of his physical and tactical superiority.
The Jury of Appeal Decision announcement read as follows
August 2007 - Osaka, Japan - A protest was presented by the Spanish
Team concerning the disqualification of Francisco Fernandez in the 20km
Race Walk at the 11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Osaka 2007
The disqualification occurred in the last metres of the race, under Rule 230.3 (a) Chief Judge
In competitions held under Rule 1(a), (b), (c), (d), the Chief Judge has the power to disqualify an athlete inside the stadium when the race finishes in the stadium or in the last 100m when the race takes place solely on the track or on the road course, when his/her mode of progression obviously fails to comply with the paragraph 1 above regardless of the number of previous Red Cards the Chief Judge has received on that athlete. An athlete who is disqualified by the Chief Judge under these circumstances shall be allowed to finish the race.
After examining the video of the race and discussing with the Chief Judge, the Jury of Appeal decided unanimously that the mode of progression of the Spanish athlete did not merit a disqualification.
The Jury of Appeal in its decision noted that the purpose of Rule 230.3 (a) is to prevent athletes from improving their position in the closing strages of the competition by obviously failing to comply with the mode of progression defined as Race Walking
The appeal of the Spanish federation is upheld and the athlete reinstated.
It is to be noted that Mr. Odriozola, a member of the Jury, did not participate in the decision.
Sadly, this was not the correct decision. Footage of Fernandez shows him clearly and blatantly in violation of the rules and he SHOULD NOT have been reinstated. This remains as a blot on our sport. Ron Daniel was the chief judge for that race and it was he who issued the last-100m disqualification call. In the aftermath of this controversial incident, Daniel wrote an incisive opinion piece labelled An Expanded Understanding of IAAF Rule 230.3a, in which he dissected the rule and made a number of very telling observations. But it was the final section, in which he analysed the final 100m as recorded by the Tokyo Broadcasting System, that is the clincher. Read it for yourself at http://vrwc.org.au/documents/2007%20Osaka%2020km%20Controversy%20Ron%20Daniels.pdf.
3. One for our long distance walkers. How many Australians have qualified as British Centurions? Names and years please.
Easy if you are an Australian Centurion (http://www.centurions.org.au/index.shtml)
but a bit harder otherwise. There are 6 of them.
There is one additional Australian walker who may or may not fit this category, namely John Smith. John had qualified as an English Centurion in 1964 (C359) when living in England, his native country. He had then emigrated to Australia in the early seventies and settled in NSW, where he still lives. In 1978, he qualified as an Australian Centurion (C16) in Gosford, NSW.
4. Which is the oldest racewalking club in Australia? When was it formed and what was its original name?
Race walking has been part of Track & Field competitions in Australia ever since athletic clubs were founded in the 1890’s. For instance, the first Victorian Track and Field Championships were conducted on the East Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1892, with a 1-mile walk and a 3-mile walk included.
The first specialist walking club, the Melbourne Amateur Walking and Touring Club (MAWTC) was set up by Mr. A. O. Barrett who gathered together a few athletically minded friends at the Port Phillip Club Hotel in Flinders Street on Friday 26th October 1894. The first race conducted by the club was held on Sunday 25th November 1894, starting at St. Kilda at 11 a.m., and finishing at Brighton, “or as the members wish”. The yearly fixtures initially included racewalks and bush walks but, by the beginning of the new century, it was noticeable that there was a growing appreciation by club members of the beauties of the countryside, and of the great scope which the State had to offer for more leisurely and contemplative outings off the beaten track. Within a few years, racing events had entirely disappeared from the club fixture, and competitive walkers had to look elsewhere for their races.
In 1911, a breakaway group formed the Victorian Walkers and Field Games Club which soon had a membership of some 40 walkers keen on racing. The MAWTC continued on, with its now undivided emphasis on bushwalking and it still exists nowadays as the Melbourne Walking Club (http://www.melbournewalkingclub.org/the-club).
1911 saw another specialist racewalking club, named the NSW Walking and Field Games Club, formed in Sydney. The date of that club's formation was 3rd February 1911, so it probably predated its Melbourne based counterpart by a few months. The meeting resolved to obtain a copy of the rules of the MAWTC for guidance in drawing up their own rules. Sadly, the Sydney club folded within a year, due to an edict from the N.S.W.A.A.A which did not allow an athlete to be a member of more than one club. Walkers were not keen to give up their own existing club affiliations, so the new club folded through lack of numbers. Once that restrictive rule was removed, another group met on 10th April 1913 and created a new club called the NSW Amateur Walkers' Club (NSWAWC). By the end of the 1913-14 season, the club had 47 members and was making very good progress.
Alas, with the First World War taking centre stage almost immediately, V.A.A.A. and N.S.W.A.A.A. ceased competition and the Victorian Walkers and Field Games Club and the NSW Amateur Walkers' Club went into recess, with most if not all of their executives enlisting in the war.
After WWI ended, the NSWAWC resumed activities but the Victorian Walkers and Field Games Club did not reappear.
It was not until 1921 that a Melbourne based group met to reform the Victorian Amateur Walkers and Field Games Club that had disbanded in 1915, and to adopt as set of rules similar to the NSW Amateur Walkers' Club. The new club was called the Victorian Amateur Walkers's Club (VAWC).
So in summary, the NSWAWC (now called the NSW Race Walking Club (see
is our oldest Australian racewalking club. There are arguments as to
whether its start was 1911 of 1913, and I favour 1913 as the start
date. Its Victorian counterpart (now called the Victorian Race Walking
Club - see http://www.vrwc.org.au/)
is still going strong and dates its origins to 1921.
5. Which male walker has the most appearances in the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships? Name and years.
No surprises here, with that honour belonging to 50 year old Spanish racewalking legend Jesus Angel GARCIA. He has 13 consecutive appearances, starting from 1993, all of them in the 50km discipline. He would have been competing in the 2020 World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships in Minsk next month to take his count to 14, if those championships had not been postponed. Hopefully a post-corona date can be found for him and all the other walkers.
||16th IAAF World Race Walking Cup||50km
||17th IAAF World Race Walking Cup||50km
||18th IAAF World Race Walking Cup||50km
||19th IAAF World Race Walking Cup||50km
||3:40:40||Mezidon - Canon
||20th IAAF World Race Walking Cup||50km
||21st IAAF World Race Walking Cup||50km||6
||22nd IAAF World Race Walking Cup||50km||6
||23rd IAAF World Race Walking Cup||50km||14
||24th IAAF World Race Walking Cup||50km||5
||25th IAAF World Race Walking Cup||50km||7
||26th IAAF World Race Walking Cup||50km||18
||27th IAAF World Race Walking
||28th IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships||50km||18
6. Which Australian walker has the most appearances in the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships?
Victorian Michael Harvey leads the pack with a superb 10 team vests,
every World Racewalking Cup from 1981 (when he was 19 years of age) to
1999 (when he was nearly 40). Behind him, Jared Tallent, Duane Cousins and Luke Adams sit on 7. These walkers all
competed before the U20 10km walks were added. Nowadays, young walkers
can tick off one or two extra vests due to the earlier start. Of the
‘youngsters’, Rhydian Cowley leads the pack with 6 vests.
||1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999|
||2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016|
||1995, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008|
||1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012|
||2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014|
||1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1991|
||2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014|
||2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018|
||1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993|
||1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991|
||2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018|
||1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999|
Jane Saville and Kerry Junna-Saxby lead the way in the women’s
count, with 7 vests apiece, ahead of Lorraine Young and Sue Cook.
The men’s counts are generally higher as they can choose from 20km and
50km. The women only had a single distance option up till 2018, so it
was harder for them to make the teams year after year.
||1993, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008|
||1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1999|
||1979, 1981, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991|
||1979, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1991|
||2004, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2018|
7. Which Australian walker has broken the most number of official world records?
Ok, I didn’t specify whether I was referring to Open or Masters so I
will give both answers.
In the early years I was very busy with family, work etc. so documenting my walks was not a priority. I also didn't date many photos that I took. Hence my recording hasn't been comprehensive now looking back. However, over the last few days I have been going through everything I have and have come up with the total of 29 world records [1 or 2 in the very early years may be debated]. We also had a house fire in 1992, so all my papers from 1987 to 1992 have been lost and not necessarily kept by Vic or Aus Veterans. I have many more Australian and Victorian records as different and more distances are accepted by the AMA and Vic Masters.
8. Who was the first Australian walker to have a performance recognised as an official World Record?
The idea of founding a world body to govern athletics kicked off in
1912 and, in 1913, the IAAF was officially established. As early as the
second congress in 1913, the question of world records came up for
discussion. At the fifth congress in 1921, the IAAF’s first list of
World Records was submitted. Where results could be checked by reliable
documents, old performances were recognised. This was the case, for
instance, for the Englishman Shrubb’s fantastic series of records
dating from the years 1903-04, and the American Wefer’s short distance
results from around about 1896.
I haven’t been able to find which racewalking events made the cut on this 1921 list. Certainly, it would have been a subset and would have included the 1920 Olympic distances of 3000m and 10,000m. It may not have included the 20km and 50km distances as they were not yet contested internationally at that stage.
Events which did not qualify for IAAF-ratified world records were typically referred to as World Bests. The 1 Mile walk and the 3500m walk were in that category. This leads me to my first contender, namely William (Bill) Murray, the Victorian walker who competed in the 1912 Olympics. He won the 1 Mile walk in the 1912 Victorian T&F Championships in a World Best time of 6:22.2. A month later, he established a new World Best for the 3500m walk with a time of 14:49.4. Rasmussen and Lassen officially acknowledge these 2 performance in their ‘Evolution of Race Walking Record and Best Performances’ of April 1085.
Rasmussen and Lassen also officially acknowledge NSW walker Athol Stubbs’ Stubbs’ 1939 1 Mile walk time of 6:18.2 and his 1940 1 Mile time of 6:15.2 as World Bests.. They also acklowledge his 1940 1500m walk time of 5:50.0 as a World Best for that distance, breaking the then best time of 5:53.4.
Alas, none of these performances were in events officially recognised by the IAAF for World Record purposes. The first Australian walker to satisfy that requirement was Victorian Ted Allsopp, when competing in a 2 hour track race at the Olympic Park in Melbourne on Saturday 22 September 1956. This race still stands today as one of the most impressive races ever in Australian history. It resulted in
|A new World Record for the 2
6 new Empire Records Don Keane and
10 new Australian Open Records
9 new Victorian Open Records
7 new Australian Junior Records
7 new Victorian Junior Records
Don Keane and Ted Allsopp
Don Keane and Ted Allsopp
Don Keane lead for the first 17 km while Ted fought out second spot
with Norm Read. As Don tired, Ted stormed home to set the first ever
officially recognised World Record by an Australian walker. Ted‘s 2
Hour World Record distance was 16 miles 403 yards (26.118km).
You can see Ted’s performance listed in the most recent edition of the IAAF’s World Record Progression (1915 edition) at http://iaaf-ebooks.s3.amazonaws.com/2015/Progression-of-IAAF-World-Records-2015/projet/IAAF-WRPB-2015.pdf.
9. Which Australian walker has the most medals from major championships (Olympics, World Champs, World Team Champs, Commonwealth Games)?
Some people suggested Kerry Saxby-Junna who won a record 27 National
titles, set 32 World Best/Records in race walking and represented
Australia in 24 major championships. She collected 9 medals in the
major championships: 2 World Championship, 3 World Indoors, 1 World
Walking Cup, 3 Commonwealth Games.
1987 World Championships 10 km Walk 2 44:23
1989 World Indoor Championships 3,000m Walk 1 12:01.65
1989 Race Walking World Cup 10 km Walk 2 43:12
1990 Commonwealth Games 10 km Walk 1 45:03
1991 World Indoor Championships 3,000m Walk 2 12:03.21
1993 World Indoor Championships 3,000m Walk 2 11:53.82
1994 Commonwealth Games 10 km Walk 1 44:25
1998 Commonwealth Games 10 km Walk 2 44:27
1999 World Championships 20 km Walk 3 1:31:18
But she is eclipsed by Jared Tallent who has an amazing 15 medals in major world meets. In fact, between 2008 and 2016, he medalled in 11 of the 12 major internationals that he contested - Olympics, World Cup, Commonwealth Games and World Championships. That is an unbelievable performance and must be just about unmatched in walking. Here's his list of major medals. He stands alone!
2006 Commonwealth Games Melbourne 20 km Walk 3 1:23:32
2008 Olympic Games Beijing 20 km Walk 3 1:19:42
2008 Olympic Games Beijing 50 km Walk 2 3:39:27
2009 IAAF World Champs Berlin 20 km Walk 5 1:20:27
2009 IAAF World Champs Berlin 50 km Walk 6 3:44:50
2010 World Racewalking Cup Chihuahua 50 km Walk 3 3:54:55
2010 Commonwealth Games Delhi 20 km Walk 1 1:22:18
2011 IAAF World Champs Daegu 50 km Walk 2 3:43:36
2012 World Racewalking Cup Saransk 50 km Walk 1 3:40:32
2012 Olympic Games London 50 km Walk 1 3:36:53 (OR)
2013 IAAF World Champs Moscow 50 km Walk 3 3:40:03
2014 World Racewalking Cup Taicang 50 km Walk 3 3:42:48
2015 IAAF World Champs Beijing 50 km Walk 2 3:42:17
2016 World Racewalking Cup Rome 50 km Walk 1 3:42:36
2016 Olympic Games Rio 50 km Walk 2 3:41:16
10. What are the longest standing and the most recent Australian racewalking records?
The longest standing Australian racewalking records are by Michael
Harvey (male) and Kerry Saxby-Junna (female).
Aust U20 20,000m Track Walk 1:36:39.7 27-Jun-81 Melbourne Michael Harvey (VIC)
Aust National 10km Road Walk 41:29.71 27-Aug-88 Canberra Kerry Saxby-Junna (NSW)
The most recent Australian records are by Claire Tallent (female) and Declan Tingay (male).
Aust National 50km Road Walk 4:09.33 05-May-18 Taicang Claire Tallent (SA)
Aust U20 10,000m Track Walk 40:49.72 14-Jul-18 Finland Declan Tingay (WA)
Well, just about true, except for one slight tweak, with Swedish walker Perseus Karlstrom setting an Australian All-Comers record in 2019.
Aust Allcomers 5000m Track Walk 18:32.56 08-Mar-19 Melbourne Perseus Karlstrom (SWE)
Check out all the Australian records at https://www.athletics.com.au/info-hub/results-rankings-records/#records.
11. What parent/child combinations have both represented Australia in major racewalking competitions (Olympics, World Champs, Commonwealth Games, World Cup, etc)?
|Tim Erickson||Commonwealth 1978 1982; World Cup 1979 1983; World IAAF 1976|
|Chris Erickson||Commonwealth 2006 2010; World Cup 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014; World IAAF 2007 2009 2013 2015; Olympics 2008 2012 2016|
|David Smith||Commonwealth 1986; Olympics 1980 1984; World Cup 1979 1981 1983 1985 1987 1991; World IAAF 1983 1987|
|Dane Bird-Smith||Commonwealth 2018; Olympics 2016; World Cup 2010 2012 2014 2016; World IAAF 2013 2015 2017|
|Craig Brill||World Junior 1986; World Cup 1987 1989, 1991, 1993|
|Nathan Brill||World Junior 2014; World Cup 2012 2014 2016|
|Jenni Jones-Billington||World Cup 1993 1995 (NZ)|
|Tayla-Paige Billington||World Junior 2014 2016; World Cup 2016|
12. Who was the first female Australian walker to officially complete 100 miles walking in 24 hours?
Carmela Carrassi in 1996 with 23.44.22. See http://www.centurions.org.au/centprofiles/27%20carmela%20carrassi.pdf.
13. Which Australian walker has swum the English Channel?
Kevin Cassidy did it in 2009, the first of many long distance swims
– read all about Kevin’s exploits in swimming, running and most
recently in racewalking: http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-kevin-cassidy.pdf.
14. Has any Australian competed in both walking and running events at the same Olympic Games?
Yes, Victorian Ross Haywood did it in 1976, competing in the 20km
walk and the marathon. Ross commented:
I wanted to throw some light on my marathon appearance at the ‘76 Olympics. Dave Chettle was the only selected marathon runner. In previous Olympic teams the ream manager was able to make discretionary additions to start lists for some events. Chris Wardlaw and myself were given the opportunity to start in the marathon and I believed that given my very solid preparation I could acquit myself well as I had mixed running and walking all the years of my athletic career. There have been many such late entries before and after these games. Ironically Chris was the only one of us to finish. In starting I naively expected to be positioned insignificantly at the start line. I do have to live with my decision which I will always regret as my good mate Brenton Norman (deceased) won the official trial and was not selected.
Of course, you couldn't do that nowadays, even if you wanted to. To be selected for the marathon you must have qualified in the marathon. So no more marathon debuts in the Olympics. Tell that to Emil Zatopek and Alain Mimoun!
Interestingly, Victor Aitken was selected for the marathon and both racewalks in the 1908 Olympics, but participated only in the Marathon. His 1908 Olympic profile shows: Marathon (DNF), 3500m Walk (DNS), 10 Miles Walk (DNS).
I wrote an article some years ago on interesting walk/run combinations – http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wg-Crossing-to-the-Dark-Side.pdf.
15. Which Australian walker represented Australia at three IAAF World Junior Championships?
Actually this honour rests with two NSW walkers - Linda Coffee represented in 1992, 1994 and 1996 and Troy Sundstrom represented in 1996, 1998 and 2000. Linda was born 31 July 1977 and Troy was born 30 May 1981, so both were aged 15, 17 and 19 at the time of the championships. Subsequent to their races, the IAAF changed the entry criteria for the World Juniors to enforce a minimum age requirement of 16. Hence it is no longer possible to do three World Junior Champs. You can check out their impressive underage careers at http://athletics.possumbility.com/athletes/athlete137.htm and at http://athletics.possumbility.com/athletes/athlete2740.htm.
16. Which walkers have represented both Australia and another country in major racewalking competitions?
Peter Fullager represented GBR (1965-1969) and then Australia
(1974-1981). See http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wa-peter-fullager.pdf
Jill Maybir-Barrett represented GBR in the 1981 IAAF Racewalking World Cup and Australia in the 1997 IAAF Racewalking World Cup.
Jenni Jones-Billington represented Australia in the 1993 Race Walking World Cup and represented New Zealand in the 1995 Race Walking World Cup.
Walkers Chris Erickson, Nathan Deakes and Jared Tallent have all
worn AV competition bib number 1. Read all about it at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/The%20AV%20Number%20One%20Competition%20Wreath.pdf
18. Which Australian walkers are members of the very select group that have ‘shot their age’ - ie played 18 holes of golf where the score is the same or less than their age. For example: You're 72 years old and you scored 72 strokes or less.
I am aware of two Australian walkers who have achieved this rare
feat, and they were both Olympians.
|Represented Australia 1976-1983
Represented Australia 1981-1991
Represented Australia 1979
Represented Australia 1976
Represented Australia 1981-1999
Represented Fiji in 1997 Racewalking World Cup
Represented Nigeria in the 2006 Commonwealth Games
Thanks to Bill Sutherland (GBR) for this information, which Kathy Crilley has published on her Centurions Worldwide website at http://centurionsworldwide.org.uk/olympians-.html.
Bill Brown (Polytechnic Harriers)
Rex Whitlock (Metropolitan WC)
Frank O'Reilly (Lozells Harriers)
John Kelly (Millrose AA)
Don Thompson MBE (Metropolitan WC)
Brian Adams (Leicester WC)
Ian Richards (Steyning AC)
Dominic King (Colchester Harriers)
|1908 Olympic 10 Miles Walk, 3,500m Walk
1908 Olympic 10 Miles Walk
1908 Olympic 3,500m Walk
1952 Olympic 50K
1960 Olympic 50K (represented Eire)
1968 Olympic 50K (represented Eire)
1960 Olympic 1960 50K (Gold medalist)
1976 Olympic 20K
1980 Olympic 50K
2012 and 2016 Olympic 50K
Of course, if I had said 'major international events', the list would be much larger. Here are a couple for starters. There are lots more if someone has the time to do the research.
||1970 Commonwealth Games (represented IOM)
||1970 and 1974 Commonwealth Games (represented Guernsey)
21. Who was the Australian woman who first fought local male authorities and completed her State 50km Championship? You won’t see her name in the results as the officials of the day refused to acknowledge her performance and refused to put her name in the results.
South Australian Lillian Harpur competed nationally from 1970 to
1983, winning lots of national titles over the shorter distances
(overall she placed in national championships on 17 occasions and had 6
Australian Championship victories to her name).
However, her greatest walks were over the longer distances, and were generally unacknowledged and unrecognised. Lillian came to Australia in 1970 from Ireland and in her very first season at the age of 22 and with a young baby, she completed the SA 50 km event in 5:27:11. When I asked Lillian how she had done such a feat in her first season of racewalking, she acknowledged that she had a background of trekking in the dales of Ireland. George White in his book Age is an Advantage: A History of Veterans Athletics in South Australia writes
Earlier in her native Ireland, even as a young child, distance meant little to her as she would often walk up to 60 miles in a day. In fact, on one rather momentous occasion, after a passing motorist had reported seeing a young girl and her dog early in the morning and the same girl about 30 miles away later in the day, the local police felt it was necessary to hold her and her dog in custody until a phone call established that she was just out for a day's walk.
The officials of that era in SA refused to acknowledge her long walks and never put her performances in the results. Thus the papers never record her performances and the official results never mention her. How tunnel-visioned many people were just a short while ago.
Lillian did not carry on with distance events under such adverse circumstances, only completing the occasional one. What a shame! If she could walk so well over the 50 km distance in her first season, what could she have done if she had had the motivation to keep going. An indication her potential is to be seen in her 30 km time of 2:47:13, achieved on 23 Aug 1981 in the SA State Championship. She was in fact second overall to Peter Fullager and finished just ahead of George White.
Read the full story at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wa-lillian-harpur.pdf.
Eight walkers have represented Australia at 3 Olympics (in date
|1956, 1960, 1964
1984, 1988, 1992
1992, 1996, 2000
1992, 1996, 2000
2000, 2004, 2012
2004, 2008, 2012
2008, 2012, 2016
2008, 2012, 2016
Two walkers have represented Australia at 4 Olympics
|1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. She
raced 10km in 1996 and 20km in the subsequent Games
1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996
And special mentions to
NSW/ACT walker Ian Rayson has been one of our top walkers for many
years now and has a swag of Australian gold medals and international
https://athletics.possumbility.com/athletes/athlete5205.htm). What you
may not realise is that Ian was also a top swimmer while a top junior
walker and won a silver medal at the Australian Age Swimming
Championships in the 17-18 yr 10km Open Water swim the same year as he
represented Australia at the 2006 Racewalking World Cup. “I had consistently placed in the top 10 at
nationals in Open Water swimming but this medal was a highlight of my
career, along with breaking the minute for 100m Backstroke.”
At the start of 2008 Ian was forced to make a hard decision. He now realised that he needed to train full-time as a walker if he wanted to keep improving. From 2004 until then, he had swum 5-6 mornings per week (4:30am start). “People ask why I persisted with swimming for so long and I guess the answer is that I was still improving rapidly in my swimming until 2007, and I wanted to compete in the Olympic Trials. This I did in the 10k Open Water Swim, placing 21st and was 18th in the 5k. But the big time for swimming was the pool nationals. I retired from swimming after scoring a Bronze Medal at the State Championships in the 5km Open Water swim. This was in my opinion my best ever race, and it was on this note that I retired.”
Read more about Ian at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wa-ian-rayson.pdf.
Kevin Cassidy (VIC) has already been discussed in terms of his swim across the English Channel to France. It is one of a number of classic long distance swims that Kevin has successfully completed. Check out his amazing career at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-kevin-cassidy.pdf. In 2017, with his Manhattan Swim, he completed The Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, a marathon swimming challenge which consists of the following three historically important swims:
Rebecca Henderson (VIC) is Australia’s top female junior walker and
represented Australia in the 2018 Racewalking World Team Championships
as a 16 year old. Alas, the coronavirus has meant she has to wait for
her 2020 World Team Championships and World Junior Championship walks
but she has plenty to keep her occupied as she is also a top junior
triathlete and a superb open water swimmer. She won the Victorian Open
Water Swim (was it 5km or 10km?) a year or so ago and regularly
finishes in the top eschelon in the various Open Water swims around
Melbourne. It has now come to my attention that I don’t have a profile
document for Bec. This is an oversight I must rectify.
From 1936 to 1939, NSW walker Athol Stubbs was unbeatable on the
National arena and his times rewrote the record books. In 1939 he
finally took Bill Murray’s long-standing 1 Mile walk record when on 25
February at the Sydney Show Grounds, he won the NSW State 1 Mile title
in 6:18.2. This was not only a new State and National record but was
the fastest 1 Mile walk time ever officially recorded in the world.
Later that same year, he showed his versatility over the longer
distances, recording a new National 10,000m walk record of 46:01.0 on
August 19 in winning the Australian Amateur Walking Clubs championship
ahead of George Knott who recorded 46:10.
At the time the 1940 Olympic Games were finally abandoned, Stubbs was the holder of the World Best for the 1 Mile walk and the Australian Record holder over 1500m (5:59.00), 3000m (13:02.8), 5000m (22:19.0) and 10000m (46:01.0).
Read his profile at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wa-athol-stubbs.pdf.
25. Which Olympic racewalking champion is quoted as enjoying the following eccentric training session: “When time permits, all clothing should be removed for a run round a secluded garden, especially if it be raining at the time.”
English walker George Larner won both the 3500m track walk and the
10 Miles roadwalk at the 1908 Olympics, thus becoming the first Olympic
racewalking champion. A policeman by trade, he is quoted in his 1909
book as having one paricular eccentric training habit: “When time
permits, all clothing should be removed for a run round a secluded
garden, especially it if be raining at the time.”
26. Which walkers have represented 3 Australian States at national level (in either RWA or AA championships)?
|NSW, QLD, VIC
SA, NSW, VIC
SA, NSW, VIC
VIC, ACT, NT
WA, QLD, VIC
Peter Waddell, former RWA President, was a jack of many trades, a very good walker for NSW/ACT in his younger days and then a hugely admired and hard working adminstrator and writer. Apart from his monthly walking newsletter, produced from 1969 to 2001, he produced other more substantial publications, including "A History of Australian Racewalking Part 1" (1989), "A Guide for Judges, Coaches and Athletes" (1990), and "Racewalking in Australia" (1991). But his writings were not restricted to sport alone. At one stage he produced a small booklet on how to win at blackjack and he was a keen gambler who felt he could beat the system. Peter is still sadly missed by us all. Read more at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/VALE%20Peter%20Waddell%202002.pdf.
Quentin Rew - represented NZ in Olympics, World Champ, etc (the list goes on and on) - now living in Melbourne
Pramesh Prasad - represented Fiji in the 1995 Racewalking World Cup, now living in Melbourne
Dip Chand - represented Fiji in the 1995 and 1997 Racewalking World Cups, now living in Queensland where he works as a doctor
Caleb Maybir - represented Fiji in the 1997 Racewalking World Cup, now living in Brisbane
Jenni Jones-Billington - represented NZ in the 1995 Racewalking World Cup in (now living in Queensland)
Pradeep Chand (Dip’s brother who also represented Fiji in 1995 Racewalking World Cup) also lives overseas now but in America rather than Australia.
A number of people also suggested NZ walker Alana Barber – yes, Alana was living in Melbourne for a number of years but has now moved back to NZ.
I am awere of 3 brother sister combinations who have BOTH won Australian Open Championships
Jared and Rachel Tallent (VIC)
Alison Thompson (nee Nichols) and Graeme Nichols (VIC)
Michael and Jillian Hosking (ACT/VIC) - add in Elizabeth as an Australian underage gold medallist
If you start to delve into the Australian Underage Track and Road Championships, you find more Australian champion combinations
Kris and Katie Hayward (QLD)
Joe, Anna and Bethany Cross (SA)
Peter and Carolyn Vanstan (VIC)
Zoe and Thomas Hunt (ACT)
And if I had said siblings rather than brother/sister combinations, we could add in
Natalie and Jane Saville (NSW)
Anne and Sarah Miller (VIC)
Yvonne and Rebecca Waters (VIC)
Veniamin Soldatenko was born in 1939 in the village of Shkurovka in the steppes of Northern Kazakhstan. He went on to become one of the 50km legends of racewalking. He was the first to break 4 hours and fought out one of the truly memorable Olympic 50km walks in 1972, eventually losing out to German walker Bernd Kannenberg but with both well under Soldatenko’s world record.
In 1970, he enrolled in the University of Alma Ata (which was at that
time the capital of Kazakhstan) as an undergraduate in sports studies,
hence the Alma Ata connection. In his cut down top that showcased his
superb physique and with his fluent easy style, he was an awe inspiring
walker who captured our attention as youngsters coming into the sport.
With his black unruly curls and inevitable headband, he was known as
the Alma Ata hippy and could not have been more different than his
soviet compartiots in style of clothing, behaviour and outlook.
Read more at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wo-veniamin-soldatenko.pdf.
31. Alas, they are all gone now,
victims of the increasing traffic flow on our roads. Name four of the
now defunct VAWC Roadwalk Classics which used to be contested annually
in Melbourne and surrounding areas.
Nowadays, we restrict our
racing to the Middle Park area because of Public Liability
considerations. Although I realise the reason for this, it does
disappoint me when I consider all the Classics the club used to hold in
years last. The following brief list of these events illustrates the
Ian McDougal Memorial Handicap (15 miles) - along Beach Rd from St Kilda to Chelsea
Melbourne to Frankston and return (50 miles)
Melbourne to Frankston (25 miles)
R. J. Blackley Memorial Handicap (20 miles Club Championship) - Queenscliff to Geelong
Coldstream to Healesville (10 miles)
Victorian 50 km - starting and finishing at Showgrounds during Show Week
Melbourne to Healesville Relay (38 miles in 2 mile legs)
Most were all still going in the 1960s when I started walking with the club. I was lucky enough to walk the St Kilda to Chelsea (15 miles) and the Melbourne to Frankston (25 miles) and I watched the Queenscliff to Geelong (20 miles) in a car. They were great races. Read more at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/The%20VRWC%20Classics.pdf.
Jim Gleeson, born 14 June
1931, is recognized as one of the greatest exponents of long distance
walking in Australia and he was regarded for many years as the iron man
of Victorian Racewalking. I remember Clarrie Jack talking in awestruck
terms of Jim's 1971 24 hour walk at the Preston Track when he set ab
Australian record of 122 miles 215 yards. What made that walk so
special were the incredibly bad conditions, with gale force winds and
very adverse conditions buffeting the walkers almost continuously. The
record still stands nearly 50 years later.
Of course, this performance was just one in a string of wonderful walks by Jim. He won the VAWC 50 mile titles in 1961, 1962 and 1963, setting a new Australian best time of 8:15:19 in 1962. Jim did many other long distance walks over the ensuing years but none more impressive than his Darwin “Big Walks” of the mid sixties. His performances in this gruelling 100km event are the stuff of legend.
Jim remained competitive over the shorter distances and, in 1968, he won the Lake Burley Griffin 20 miler in Canberra, one of the first winners of this prestigious annual event.
You can read more about Jim at http://centurions.org.au/centprofiles/03%20jim%20gleeson.pdf.
In 1957, the Dominican
Republic issued a set of Olympic stamps, featuring some of the 1956
Olympic Gold Medallists. One stamp featured 1956 Olympic 50km winner
Norm Read of NZ. But to his left is seen British walker Don Thompson
and on his right is Australian walker Ron Crawford. Don was thus the
first Australian to feature on a postage stamp.
In 1992, the small Pacific island nation of Tuvalu released a stamp featuring female walkers from the 1987 IAAF World Championship race in Rome. Women's racewalking was added to the Olympic in 1992 so perhaps that is why this stamp was produced at that stage and an archival shot used. Seen amongst the group of women is Australian walker Sue Cook.
Fast forward to 2006 when stamps were released to honour each Australian Commonwealth Games gold medallist from the 2006 Games in Melbourne. Amongst the featured stamps were two for Nathan Deakes (20km and 50km men) and one for Jane Saville (20km women).
Finally, Australia releases stamps of all Olympic Gold medallists for each Olympic Games. In 2016, when Jared Tallent was finally awarded his gold medal from the 2012 Games in London, a special 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist stamp was released.
That makes 5 walkers and 6 stamps in total. Read about them at http://www.vrwc.org.au/vrwcstamps.shtml.
Thirukumaran Balaysendaran was well known for his barefoot walking,
even in major races. He raced without shoes in a number of major
1997 IAAF Racewalking World Cup, Podebrady 20km 105th 1:31:17
1998 Commonwealth Games, Kuala Lumpur 50km 9th 4:44:33
1999 IAAF Racewalking World Cup, Mézidon-Canon 20km 90th 1:37:12
2001 South East Asian Games, Kuala Kumpur 20km 3rd 1:34:30
We even saw his barefoot walking firsthand in Sydney in February 2000 when he competed in the Australian 20km championships, being held on the Homebush course which was to be used in the Olympics that year. On that occasion, he finished 22nd in a time of 1:40:10, his unique walking mode being captured by the Sydney Morning Herald (see http://www.smh.com.au/ftimages/2005/05/11/1115585021026.html).
Read more about him at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wo-thirukumaran-balaysendaran.pdf.
VAWC walker and life member Jim Gaylor was one of our best Australian walkers of the pre-WWII era. Apart from his many feats on the road, Jim had a unique claim in that he had survived lightning strikes on 3 separate occasions. The first time was as a 22 year old under a tree in North Richmond. Then after the war came two more close calls when he was out and about near his Sunshine home. Melbourne University scientists gave him a thorough examination and found him to be a very interesting human specimen indeed. There was even a newspaper report. “They tested my blood and bone measurements,” Jim recalled. “I know it sounds amazing, but the scientists reckoned my heavy boned structure saved me from possible death." I met Jim on many occasions and remember him as a bigger than big person and personality. Read more at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-jim-gaylor.pdf.
36. Are there any international walkers who have also represented their countries in major international championships in other sports (eg at World Championship level, etc)?
Tasmanian racewalker Rick Cooke represented Australia in the 1991
IAAF Racewalking World Cup 50km. After his retired from raceewalking,
he took up ultra distance running and has represented Australia on
multiple occasions – 2011 Commonwealth 24H Championship, 2012 and 2013
IAU 24H Championships and 2016 IAU Asian 24H Championship. See https://statistik.d-u-v.org/getresultperson.php?runner=182686.
Star Czech walker Anezka Drahotova is a former European Junior 10km walk champion and has been representing her country with distinction as a racewalker since 2011. She also represented the Czech Republic in cycling at the 2013 World Championships (see https://www.procyclingstats.com/rider/anezka-drahotova/2013).
Victorian walker Bec Henderson represented Australia in the 2018 IAAF World Racewalking Team Championships (junior 10km walk) and was also in the Triathlon Australian junior team for the ITU world championships in 2018.
(Thanks to Emmanuel for this one). Hungarian walker Andrea Kovacs played Ice Hockey before taking up racewalking and was part of the Hungarian national team in that sport In fact, she competed in two World championships, playing centre in the Hungarian Team on each occasion Those were the 2004 World Champs in Slovenia and the 2005 World Champs in South Africa. See http://webarchive.iihf.com/Hydra/Tournaments/output/WWIII/hydra.iihf.com/IIHF_Core/jsp/content/web_output/index.jsp@compId=23 and http://webarchive.iihf.com/Hydra/Tournaments_05/output/wwiii/hydra.iihf.com/IIHF_Core/jsp/content/web_output/index.jsp@compId=1000000007
1964 Olympic silver medallist Paul Nihill has a road (Nihill Place)
in Addiscombe in England named after him. It was only fitting that the
road-naming ceremony took place on the day on which the 50 km walk was
taking place at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. See the photo
Australia’s greatest female walker Kerry Saxby-Junna has two roads named after her. Firstly, there is a pathway in her home town of Ballina, on the NSW coast, called the Kerry Saxby Walkway.
She is also one of a number of top AIS athletes who have walkways in the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra named in honour of her. Kerry’s is called Kerry Saxby Way and is south of the main Sports Medicine precinct.
French walker Roger Marceau, the winner of the 1930 Paris-Strasbourg, has a street named in his honour in his native city of Hénin-Beaumont: Rue Roger Marceau, 62110 Hénin-Beaumont.
French walker Florimond Cornet (100km track in 9:41:39.8 on June
10th 1939) has a street named in his honour in the city of Desvres, in
the north of France - Square Florimond Cornet. Check it out at https://tinyurl.com/yd7h8oqy.
French walker Ernest Romens (the winner of the Paris-Strasbourg classic in 1933, 1935 and 1937) has a path named in his honour in Strasbourg - it's called Chemin Ernest Romens and runs off the Route des Romains. See it referenced in https://www.annuaire-mairie.fr/rue-strasbourg.html.
After Erick Barrondo's silver medal in the 2012 Olympic 20km in
London, he became a national hero in his home country of Guatamala. On
November 12, 2012, the mayor of Guatamala City, Álvaro Arzú,
inaugurated the Erick Barrondo Overpass (Paso a Desnivel Erick Barnabe Barrondo) located in Centra Norte, highway CA-9, Guatemala City. Here's the youtube video of the official opening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elOMCKTGO5w. Barrondo was further honoured when the Parque de la Democracia had its name changed to Parque Erick Barrondo. Here's the facebook page for the park: https://www.facebook.com/Parque-Erick-Barrondo-La-Democracia-Guatemala-Z7-1004046179606288/.
Jerzy Hausleber was the Polish coach who revolutionised the world of
racewalking in the 1970's, taking Mexico from an unknown minnow to the
world's strongest walking nation in less than 10 years. I had the
privilege of meeting him on a number of occasions in the seventies and
early eighties. A truly inspirational coach and person. See more at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wo-jerzy-hausleber.pdf and https://www.worldathletics.org/news/news/jerzy-hausleber-the-architect-of-mexicos-race.
USA walker Larry Young won Olympic silvers in the 1968 and 1972 50km
walks. As his international racewalking career was coming to and end,
Larry went back to study and graduated in 1976 with an arts degree from
Columbia College, Missouri. Since then, he has been a full-time artist
(for the last 25 years) and has placed over 50 monumental outdoor
sculptures nationally and abroad. See http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wo-larry-young.pdf.
No, it wasn’t Norm Read, the 1956 Olympic 50km champion. You have to go a long way further back to the days of pedestrianism to find Joe Scott. I’ll leave you to read about this amazing walker and make up your own mind – see http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wo-joe-scott.pdf.
41. What Australian and Victorian racewalking champion and record holder danced from Geelong to Melbourne, using relay teams of female partners, covering a distance of 50 miles in 12 hours to set a record that will almost certainly never be matched?
Eric Sunderland was one of Australia’s most talented walkers and would have been a champion in any era. Yet, he walked away from the sport in the late 1920’s, once it was confirmed that the 1932 Olympics would no longer include a racewalk. But before he did, he completed one final feat that sounds unbelievable yet was true. Read all about it and his wonderful career at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-eric-sunderland.pdf.
Italian triple Olympian Ugo Frigerio won 3 Olympic Golds and 1 Bronze in a career that extended from 1919 to 1932. In 1934, he wrote his autobiography, titled Marciando nel nome dell’Italia (Walking in the Name of Italy) and went on to contribute valuable work on the International Walking commission. The preface to his book was written by Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini. Read about it at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wo-ugo-frigerio.pdf.
43. To win an Olympic racewalking medal is amazing. To win a second puts you in very elite company. But a very small subset of the truly elite have won 3 or more Olympic racewalking medals. Who are these ultimate champions?
Robert Korzeniowski (POL) is the most successful Olympic racewalker,
having won the 50km three times and the 20km once. Three other athletes
have also won four Olympic walk medals: Ugo Frigerio (ITA) won three
gold medals and a bronze in early competitions, Vladimir Golubnichy
(USSR) won two 20 km walk titles as well as a silver and a bronze, and
Jared Tallent (AUS) won a gold medal in the 50 km along with two silver
and a bronze. John Llungren (SWE), Maurizio Damilano (ITA) Ernest Webb
(GBR) and Ron Weigel (DDR) have each won 3 Olympic medals.
No woman has won 3 medals as yet but Liu Hong is the closest, with 4th in 2008, bronze in 2012 and gold in 2016
Of course, they are a long way behind the all-time T&F best: Paavo Nurmi (FIN) (9–3–0) and Carl Lewis (USA) (9–1–0)
44. His father was Queen Victoria's favorite walker so it was no surprise that he was attracted to the life of the long distance walker, long after the heady days of professional pedestianism had passed. His amazing walks mark him as one of the greatest of the long distance walkers. Who was he?
Albert (Bert) Couzens was born in 1899. Like his father before him, who was Queen Victoria's favorite walker, he was attracted to the life of the long distance walker, long after the heady days of professional pedestianism had passed. But this did not stop him from becoming a legend in his own right. He started his career at an early age. At eleven, he strolled from London to Colchester (about 50 miles); three years later he was fired from his chemist's apprentice job for walking off one day to see friends at Walton-on-the-Naze (about 70 miles). His long distance feats in the 1930's and 1940's are not likely to be matched. Read more at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wo-bert-couzens.pdf.
The two 1968 50km walkers were Christoph Hohne (50km Gold 4.20.13 in Mexico, M75 Gold in 65.22 in Perth) and Bob Gardiner (50km 19th 4.52.39 in Mexico, M80 Gold in 70.33). Fellow 1968 racewalk Olympians Tom Dooley (1968 20km) and Goetz Klopfer (1968 50km) were also competing in Perth. Goetz, Tom and Christoph met in the WMA 20km while Christoph and Bob met in the WMA 10km.
There were quite a few other Olympic walkers at the WMA Champs in Perth. The full list of Olympians reads as follows
Rodrigo Mureno Munar
|(GDR 1964-72 50km, M75)
(AUS 1964 1968 20km/50km - M80)
(USA 1968 1972 20km/50km - M70)
(USA 1968 1972 20km - M70)
(COL 2008 50km - M50)
(GBR 1980 50km - M65)
(AUS 2004 20km - W40)
(AUT 1980 20km - M65)
46. What Victorian walker is
remembered for his uncanny ability to raise money? He was without a
doubt the best grass roots fund raiser Australian athletics has ever
Some people suggested VRWC life member Alan Minter – now that was an
excellent answer as Alan was a huge fund raiser for the club,
coordinating the mini-Tatts tickets and the annual phone book
deliveries in the 1960s and 1970s (see more at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-allan-minter.pdf) - but the person I was after was Varel Newmark (see http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-varel-newmark.pdf ).
Varel was without a doubt the best grass roots fund raiser Australia has ever seen. When the Australian Olympic Federation decided to sell Olympic biros to raise money to send the team to the 1976 Olympics, Varel put up his hand and started his campaign – the result an astonishing 10,500 biros sold by him alone. He roamed the city, stopping passers by along the way and it took a strong person indeed to resist his sales pitch and 'in your face' approach. He was present at every athletics meeting working the stands, always to good effect. So impressed was the AOF that after the Olympics he was awarded a special gold medal to recognise his fund raising prowess. He continued on working to raise money for the Australian Olympic team, selling a further 36,600 biros in 1980 and an additional 15,000 biros in 1984 – for a grand total of 62,100. His equal is not likely to be seen again.
The generous gift of his time and effort was not restricted to the AOF. He was also awarded a cup for outstanding service to Athletics by the Victorian Amateur Athletics Association (VAAA) and was also recognised by both Preston Athletics Club and the VAWC for his fundraising efforts for those clubs.
47. What Victorian walker started as a sprinter, progressed to distance running, where he was a Victorian Country marathon champion, and finally turned his attention to walking in his mid thirties, rewriting the Australian racewalking record books and going on to have a fine international racewalking career?
Quite a few guessed correctly that I was referring to Willi Sawall (see http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-willi-sawall.pdf).
He started racewalking in his hometown base of Ballarat at the age of
32 and joined VAWC the following year, aged 33. Within a couple of
years, he was Australia’s top walker, winning titles and breaking
records all over the place. Between 1976 and 1987, he represented
Australia internationally (he was aged 45 in his final World
Championship appearance in 1987). Overall, he won 37 Victorian titles
and broke Australian records on 42 occasions. Even now, he still holds
the Victorian 2 hour track record of 27.123 km, set at the Box Hill
track on May 24 1980.
48. Who was the Victorian walker whose active career in the racewalking
world extended over an amazing 76 years and whose accolades included
international judge, coach and author and even included a ban for
breaking the rules governing amateur sport?
A couple of people suggested Gus Theobold (see http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-gus-theobald.pdf). Although Gus lived to 93 years of age, his walking career only spanned 59 years as he was a late starter to our sport. The correct answer was Frank McGuire who started racewalking in 1931 and retired from coaching in 2007. Not a bad effort! Read all about Frank at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-frank-mcguire.pdf. He is one of our legends!
49. Which Olympic champion racewalker was once chased by sword weilding samurai - and did he walk or run to get away from them?
Some people have good memories and remember youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP7umBNRxnw, in which a Japanese TV show sets up Olympic champion Jefferson Perez to be attacked by samurai while training on a track in Japan. It’s a very poor quality video but still a great laugh. Find out for yourself if he ran or walked away.
50. What racewalker was caught up in the infamous drama when Palestinian terrorists broke into the 1972 Olympic Village with the intention of taking the entire Israeli delegation hostage?
Quite a few knew it was Israeli racewalker Shaul Ladany who was in
the Israeli 1972 Olympic team as a 50km walker and who was lucky to
escape from the Israeli team rooms when terrorists stormed the facility
to take hostages. Read the full story at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munich_massacre.
He jumped from the second-story balcony of his room and fled to the
American dormitory, awakening U.S. track coach Bill Bowerman and
informing him of the attack. He was in fact first person to spread the
Shaul raced in Melbourne in 2005, the first time I had seen him since competing against him in the 1976 IAAF 50km in Malmo, Sweden. See my profile of Shaul at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wo-shaul-ladany.pdf.
51. Which Victorian walker boasts the longest and most prolific national career (in terms of winning Australian and State Championships medals) of any Australian.
Victorian Ted Allsopp stands
alone, so far clear of everyone else that it’s not funny. He won his
first National medal in 1946 and his last in 1971 – a span of 26 years.
He won his first Victorian Championship medal in 1946 and his last in
1972 – an even longer span of 27 years. His championship stash of
medals reads as follows
Australian Championships: 13G 10S 4B 27 medals
RWA Championships: 3G 1S 2B 6 medals
Victorian Championships: 40G 24S 14B 78 medals
I had a partial list but I got busy during the week to fully document all of his 111 medals. You can see it all in details at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-ted-allsopp-medals.pdf. And if you want to read more about one of Australia’s best ever walkers, chedk out http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-ted-allsopp.pdf.
Emmanuel Tardi got busy and documented Ted’s medals, along with those of his nearest rival Will Sawall who is not that far behind. Willi’s medal count extended from 1975 to 1995, a period of 20 years. But there were more titles on offer by the time Willi got underway, so he was able to amass his medals more quickly.
Australian Championships: 12G 3S 4B 19 medals
Victorian Championships: 37G 16S 7B 60 medals
The best of the women takes a bit of research. Emmanuel determined that the best from a Victorian medal perspective was Wendy Muldoon who amassed 44 Victorian Open Medals (as well as 11 underage ones).
Victorian Open Championships: 29G 8S 7B 60 medals
Nationally, NSW walker Kerry Saxby-Junna is easily the top, with 31 Australian Championship medals, 27 of them gold. That is a level of excellence which is unmatched locally.
Australian Championships: 27G 4S 0B 31 medals
52. Which Australian international walker eventually decided to put his work career ahead of his athletic career, going on to earn a PhD and now working as a scientist for a major company in Switzerland?
Melbourne walker Tom Barnes represented Australia at two World University Games (2009 and 2009) and one World Race Walking Cup (2010). However, Tom started working on a Doctorate in his chosen field of pharmacology in 2008 and, as time went on, its demands increased and career eventually won out over racewalking. He completed his PhD and started with the biotechnological company CSL at their labs in Parkville, Melbourne. He is still employed with CSL but is currently based in Bern, Switzerland, with his family. His combination of safe technique, strength, speed and consistency marked him out as a walker with a big future but he made what was for him the right decision. Career and family were his priority and it has all worked out as planned. Check out http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-tom-barnes.pdf.
53. Who is the Australian walker who won two World championship golds, earned a bronze in the IAAF World Cup and set over 30 World records or World best times.
Before the IAAF granted world championship status to female walkers, they had their own international body called the IWF which held its own World Championships. Sue Cook won the IWF World Championship in 1980 (5km in 23:39) and 1982 (5km in 23:03). She also won bronze in the 1983 IAAF Race Walking World Cup (10km 45:26). She won 13 Australian titles over distances from 3000m track to 20km road and set over 30 World Records or World Bests. She was the first of our female superstars. A brilliant stylist, I don’t ever remember her being disqualified in a race. Read more at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-sue-cook.pdf and at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sue_Cook_(racewalker).
Victorian walker Kevin
Lowden, who represented Australia in the 1991 IAAF Race Walking World
Cup 50km, was a brilliant underage walker who set a number of Victorian
records on his way up through the age groups. He was possessed of sheer
speed as the following 1998 newspaper article testifies:
They tore out of the blocks in a 60 meters dash at Olympic Park the other night – seven sprinters and one walker. National junior 20-kilometre walking champion Kevin Lowden, from Ringwood, race-walked the 60 metres in 9.9 sec, which has to be some sort of world record.
The occasion was one of the Athletics Victoria special meets and he was not allowed to start unless he used sprinting blocks. So his time could have been even faster!
Michael Harvey tells me that, around that time, he and Kevin and Mark Fletcher had a 100m challenge and Kevin left them in his wake, taking around 16 seconds to walk the distance. You can read more about Kevin at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-kevin-lowden.pdf.
The only other walker I know who has done that sort of thing semi officially is 1952/1956 Olympian Don Keane. The old adage of Australians and tall poppies was well and truly illustrated not long after his 1956 successes as cynics trotted out the old insinuation that he was consistently off the ground in his races. In an effort to prove them wrong, he invited everyone to bring their cameras to Olympic Park in Melbourne one night and he staged a series of ten flat out 100m walkthroughs with 30 seconds recovery between each. He averaged 17 seconds for each 100 m sprint and not one of the various shots could capture him off the ground. His stride was measured at a massive 1.25m. Check out the photos at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-don-keane.pdf.
Don was also able to hold his speed well and had a best 400m laptime of 1:15. In an era of tough judging, he was rarely disqualified in the sprint home and his speed endurance and technique normally held off all challenges in the home straight. His theory was that the faster he walked, the greater the contact because of the greater thrust and pressure he was able to bring to bear with his technique.
55. Who was this famous English walker? He was suspended by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAA) for breaching the laws of amateurism because of his musical stage show in which, dressed in singlet and shorts, he would burst through a large screen depicting the finish line of the London to Brighton walk and then proceed to showcase his violin repertoire.
The story of English walker Tom Payne was published in this magazine some time ago (http://www.vrwc.org.au/newsletters/heelandtoe-2018-num52.pdf). It’s am amazing story that I have captured for posterity at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wo-tom-payne.pdf.
56. He is the writer of one of the best selling and most influential horror stories of all time but he was also a champion endurance walker during his time at Trinity College in Dublin. Who is he?
Abraham (Bram) Stoker was born in Clontarf, Ireland, on November 8,
1847. Born at the height of the Irish Potato Famine, little Abraham was
a sick child who most of his first 7 years in bed. Eventually
recovering, he went Trinity College Dublin in 1964 and flourished. He
joined the prestigious debating team and history club and became a
well-regarded athlete and endurance walker at school. He graduated from
Trinity in 1871 and that seems to mark the end of his athletic
endeavours. And of course he went on to write Dracula in 1897.
Stuart Cooper took silver in the 1981 Victorian 50km
championship. In 2009, he won his second Victorian racewalking medal
when he came third in the Victorian 30km roadwalk championship on 9th
August of that year – a gap of 28 years! His 30km time of 3:27:31 was a
lot slower than in his prime but it was a proud moment and one that he
had earned with a gutsy walk. Stuart is of course now our VRWC
President. Check out my article on him and some photos of him crossing
the finish line in that 2009 30km -
Three walkers can boast three 50km Olympic medals
Robert Korzienowski (POL) Golds in 1996, 2000 and 2004
Jared Tallent (AUS) Gold in 2012, Silvers in 2008 and 2016
John Ljunggren (SWE) Gold 1948, Silver 1960, Bronze 1956
The walker in question was young Ivanhoe Harriers walker Russell
Miller. Stuart Cooper knew the answer, as would anyone who was walking
around that time, as Russell was a prodigious talent, sadly walking
away from the sport after a few short years and being tragically killed
in a motor bike accident at a young age. Read more at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wv-russell-miller.pdf.
Mexican walker Bernardo Segura had crossed the finish line in first
place in the 2000 Olympic 20km walk in Sydney and had done his lap of
honour and was on the telephone being congratulated by the Mexican
President when the chief judge finally caught up with him to tell him
he had received a third red card very late in the race and had been
disqualified. He had won one of the most exciting sprints to the line
ever, just holding out Polish walker Robert Korzeniowski. Personally, I
thought he looked the best of the three leading walkers (he was the
world record holder, after all) but he was the one to get pinged. See
his exciting win at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlA9O2H8KXU. And see the anguish of his subsequent disqualification at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t26XGa69Y_E.
That disqualification, along with the late disqualification of Jane Saville as she entered the stadium in the women’s 20km walk nearly resulted in racewalking being thrown out of the Olympics. Walking was put on notice – clean up your act or it’s goodbye. Changes were made to judging procedures and subsequent championships ran more successfully, thank goodness.
61. Which former IOC president once described his race walking experience as "the closest a man can come to the pangs of childbirth"?
Avery Brundage (1887-1975)
was President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), serving
from 1952 to 1972. The only American to attain that position, Brundage
is remembered as a zealous advocate of amateurism and for his
involvement with the 1936 and 1972 Summer Olympics, both held in
Germany. A well known athlete in his younger days, he competed in the
1912 Olympic pentathlon (five track and field events in one day) and
decathlon (10 events in two days). But it was in the context of the
All-Round Championship (10 track and field events in one day, with only
five minutes of rest between events) that he encountered the racewalk.
The All-Round included technically difficult events like the 56-pound
weight throw and the half-mile walk. That walking competition, Brundage
once said, was "the closest a man can come to experiencing the pangs of
Brundage was a complex but fascinating character and perhaps the most powerful figure in the history of international sports. Allen Guttmann's definitive biography "The Games Must Go On" is well worth the read if you can get your hands on a copy. You should also read the comprehensive New York Times obituary, issued on the occasion of his death in 1975: https://www.nytimes.com/1975/05/09/archives/avery-brundage-of-olympics-dies-head-of-games-for-20-years-tenure.html.
62. Who was Australia'a first racewalking National Event Coach?
Here’s the chronological order: John Boas -> Stan Malbut ->
Craig Hilliard -> Harry Summers -> Ron Weigel -> John
Fitzgerald -> Brent Vallance. The idea of National Event Coaches and
National Squads came out of a 1977 AT&FCA report and came to
fruition in 1980. With no suitable candidate for the walks NEC,
John Boas, the Long Jump NEC who coached Gary Honey and Ian Campbell,
was asked by Jean Roberts to take on the job as acting NEC (Walks).
John was a multi-discipline coach, specialising in the horizontal jumps
but equally adept coaching athletes in disciplines as diverse as pole
vaulting, distance running and walking (he was also my coach throughout
my walking career). Read all about how it all panned out at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/Australian%20National%20Event%20Coach%20Walking.pdf.
63. Who was the first Australian to break 4 hours for the 50km walk. And as a related question, which Australian walker has broken 4 hours for the 50km on the most occasions?
Victorian Willi Sawall, who
held the Australian best with a time of 4:06:39, won the Australian
50km Championship in Melbourne in May 1979 with a 10 minute PB time of
3:56:07. It was one of 6 occasions when he chipped away at the record,
eventually lowering it to 3:46:34 in 1980. Overall, no guesses for who
has the most 50km walks in under 4 hours – Jared Tallent leads the pack
with 15. Read more at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/Australian%2050km%20Men%20Stats.pdf.
64. Who was the walker who collapsed from heat exhaustion with only 500m to go in a Commonwealth Games 50km, while 5 minutes ahead of his nearest rivals and with the gold seemingly his for the taking?
New Zealand walker Craig
Barrett was the walker in question and the race was the 1998
Commonwealth Games 50km in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Barrett had been on
the last of 19 laps around the course at Lake Titiwangsa and was
just 1km from the finish and six minutes ahead. Another five
minutes and the gold would be his, in what was the most brutal event of
the Games. And then he collapsed. New Zealand's chef de mission, Les
Mills, having just arrived at the walk venue and well away from the
finish line, was the only Kiwi official to witness the collapse.
Marshalls had not wanted to intervene, as Barrett was leading. But
Mills, a former Commonwealth Games discus gold medallist, ordered the
ambulance in, fearing the walker's life could be at risk if he stayed
out on the course much longer. As the New Zealander was helped into the
ambulance, Malaysian Govindaswamy Saravanan, a 28 year old bank clerk,
cruised past. “I saw him collapse so I knew I had gold. I knew I just
had to keep my pace and finish the race to win,” Saravanan said.
Pandemonium broke out as the crossed the finish line in 4:10:05,
becoming the first Malaysian ever to win an Commonwealth athletics gold.
65. What English international racewalker tackled the Trans-America challenge in 1972, thinking he had to beat a record time of 64 days, only to find mid walk, that a South African runner had just reduced the record to 54 days? Digging deep, he increased his walking pace to complete the 2,891 Mile challenge in 53 days 12 hours and 15 minutes – at an average rate of 54 miles (87km) per day!
Way back in late 2015, I described this feat in an article on English walker John Lees who was only 21 years old when he did his Trans-America walk - check out the article at http://www.vrwc.org.au/tim-archive/articles/wo-john-lees.pdf. John went on to become one of Great Britain’s top 50km walkers.
66. Can you list all the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and major World Athletics Championships that have been held in Australia?
These are the big ones
Commonwealth/Empire Games: Sydney 1938, Perth 1962, Brisbane 1982, Melbourne 2006 and Gold Coast 2018
Olympic Games: Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000
World Junior Championship: Sydney 1996
World Masters Championships: Melbourne 1987, Brisbane 2001 and Perth 2016
IAAF World Cup in Athletics: Canberra 1985
And these are lesser ones
Oceania championships: Townsville 1996, Adelaide 2000, Townsville 2004, Cairns 2010, Cairns 2012, Cairns 2015 and Townsville 2019
World Masters Games: Brisbane 1994, Melbourne 2002, Sydney 2009
Emmanuel Tardi earned a special bonus point for identifying the 4th IAAF World Cup in Athletics which was held on October 4–6, 1985 at the Bruce Stadium in Canberra. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985_IAAF_World_Cup. I’d completely forgotten that one, which was an international track and field sporting event sponsored by the IAAF. It is no longer held.
And the list will grow by one next year, with the 2021 World Athletics Cross Country Championships to be held in Bathurst, NSW.
It is interesting that Adelaide has never held a major athletics championship. It was far larger than Perth in 1962. Perhaps the single athletics track works against it. Recently it put its hat in the ring as a bidder for the 2026 Commonwealth Games but has since withdrawn from the process. What a shame!
67. In the early days of the Lugano Cup, there were a few hardy walkers who raced the 20km/50km combination on successive days to help their country out from a points perspective. But in the modern era, you don't normally try to walk the combination unless there is a significant time gap between the two events. What walker won a 20/50 combination in a major meet, with only 36 hours between when the 20km started and the 50km started?
Up to and including the 1991
World Cup in San Jose, countries had to enter a team in both the men’s
20km and 50km to be allowed to compete. This sometimes meant a tough
ask with a walker doing the 20km/50km double over the weekend. At the
1989 World Cup in Hospitalet Spain (where Simon Baker won the 50km and
Kerry Saxby won silver at the 10km), Dutch walker (and now L3 judge)
Hans van der Knaap walked a PB 20km on the Saturday evening with
1:33:58, and the next morning walked the 50km in 4:31:55 (just ahead of
Michael Harvey). In the same races, Erling Anderson did 1:28:55 and the
next morning 4:27:07. The 20km/50km had to be completed within 20
hours! Now that’s impressive.
But the performance I was after was Nathan Deakes’ double in the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester (20km win in 1:25:35 and 50km win in 3:52:40). The toughness of this particular double captured the public imagination and was generally recognised as one of the top performances of the Games. Korzenowski had won the double at the 2000 Olympics but had a 5 day break between the 2 events. Nathan had only 36 hours between the two events for his double.
“This has never been done before”, said his coach Ron Weigel. “He could not recover fully. It was impossible. He's hurting now but he's fighting. He'll walk through the agony.”
Deakes' triumph was particularly sweet because he ruined the effort of the hosts to limit him to one event. The Australians were horrified when they learned that the 20km walk would be conducted late on the Sunday afternoon and the 50km would start at 10AM on the Tuesday. They requested more time be inserted between the events, as is the case in Olympics and World Championships. The organisers were unyeilding – and so too was Deakes who defiantly decided to do the double, recovery time or not.
The drug watchdogs wanted to make sure he did not use anything illegal in his recuperation. After the initial urine test on the Sunday for the winner, he was summoned back to the athletes' village for an unannounced sample session comprising one urine and two blood samples on the Monday, and then went through the formality of another post-competition test on the Tuesday. That makes 5 tests in 2 days!
But all to no avail. He took the double in fine style! And he did it again in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne with 4 days between the events. His times there were even faster (30km 1:19:55, 50km 3:42:53).
Now this was an easy one. It was Kerry Saxby-Junna who won the women’s 10km walk at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland with 45:03.
69. What Australian walker was directed back into the Olympic Stadium when he still had one lap of the 2km course to complete? His 26th place finish was later amended to a DNF. Although he subsequently received an official written apology from the Olympic Games LOC and an explanatory note was also attached to the official results, it was probably a poor consolation for a walker contesting his first Olympics.
Victorian Duane Cousins’ Olympic walk in Atlanta is remembered in unique circumstances. He was directed back into the Olympic Stadium when he still had a lap of the 2 km course to complete. He crossed the line in a provisional 26th place but this was later amended to ‘DNF’. He had attempted to clarify the instructions at the time but, in a confused state, accepted the course marshal’s directions. He subsequently received an official written apology from the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and an explanatory note was also attached to the official results. But it was poor consolation for Duane in his first Olympic venture. He did return and rectify things in the 2000 Olympics, finishing the 50km walk there in 34th place with 4:10:43.
Jared Tallent London 2012 and Beijing 2008
Luke Adams Beijing 2008
Nathan Deakes Athens 2004 and Sydney 2000
Dion Russell Sydney 2000
Simon Baker Seoul 1988
Andrew Jachno Seoul 1988
David Smith Moscow 1980
Frank Clark Mexico 1968
Bob Gardiner Tokyo 1964
Ronald Crawford Tokyo 1964 and Rome 1960 and Melbourne 1956
Noel Freeman Rome 1960
Ted Allsopp Melbourne 1956
Ron Crawford did the double at 3 Games, a wonderful effort. Jared Tallent did the double at two Games and won 3 medals from the 4 events. Nathan Deakes also did the double twice. You are probably wondering why David Smith is in this list given that he never finished (or even seriously attempted) a 50km. His situation was similar to Ross Hayward in 1976 – there was a vacant spot in an event and he was able to fill it. This loophole has now been closed and it is no longer possible to do this.
Note, Charel Sowa from Luxembourg finished the 20km and 50km walks at Rome, Tokyo, Mexico and Munich!