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VRWC Life Member - Frank McGuire



Frank, born 29 March 1912, joined Collingwood Harriers in 1929 as a runner and was a member of its first premiership team.  He joined VAWC as a junior in 1931, the same year as Gus Theobald.  He was immediately successful, winning the Victorian Junior walk titles over 880 yard (3:30) and 7 miles (61:47) ahead of Collingwood teammate Jim Gaylor. In 1932, he won the Victorian Junior 5 mile title in 40:05, again just ahead of Jim.

Throughout the 1930s Frank competed but his career was interrupted by the Second World War. It was not until after the club reformed in 1946 that he achieved his best national performance - a third placing to Ted Allsopp and Ray Goulding in the inaugural Australian 10,000m title in 1948.

At around this stage, he transferred to the reformed Chelsea Club. He won the 1951 Melbourne to Frankston handicap and became VAWC club Captain in 1952 and stayed in that capacity until 1956. His last interstate competition was the 1954 Australian 50 km championship as captain of the Victorian team and soon after that, he retired from racing and turned his attention to coaching.

He was appointed club coach in 1956 and attacked the task with great vigor. His innovative use of slow motion cine film to analyse walking technique was revolutionary and his recommendations that judges adopt angle judging was accepted first at VAWC level and then at Federation and Australian level.

It was at this stage (1956) that he was awarded life membership of VAWC.

Frank was a walk judge at the 1960 Olympics and in the same year was appointed national walk coach.

He gained international respect and recognition as the author of numerous books on coaching and training, with emphasis on junior walkers in many of his publications.  When his definitive book “Training for Race Walking” was published in 1962, he presented 40 copies to the club to sell for club funds.

He was declared a professional by the AAU in the 1960s for charging for his services and in 1966 was forced to resign his position as Club Coach with VAWC. It is recorded that the committee received this resignation with great regret. But Frank continued to work tirelessly behind the scene, coaching and writing.

Always innovative, he tried to introduce examination by movie [video], but the suggestion was rejected by other judges.

But athletics was not Frank’s only interest. He was also a prominent weights training coach, for many years operating a gym on The Strand. The annual VAWC St Kilda to Chelsea 15 mile race used to finish at his gym.

Frank and his wife Freda helped set up veteran athletics at Mentone in 1978 and the venue is still going stong over 20 years later.

He was also prominent in Veteran athletics and formed an unbeatable duo with Tom Daintry and Jack Webber. Together they won the teams event at the 1981 World Vets in Christchurch (65+) and in the 1987 World Vets in Melbourne (70+).

In 2000 Frank was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for outstanding contribution to sport. It was yet one more achievement in a life full of achievements, big and small.

He remained involved in athletics and regularly coached on Saturday mornings at the Mentone Athletics Track into his nineties. It was not until 2007 that Frank bid farewell to his home suburb of Chelsea and moved to the Emerald Glades Hostel in Emerald to be closer to his family. At that stage, at 95 years of age, he finally retired from his Saturday morning coaching.

He died on Friday 28 September 2012, having celebrated his one hundredth birthday earlier in the year, along with many of his friends from VRWC.

With his passing, our final link to those early days of Australian racewalking was severed but I know that Frank's memory will live on for many years as one of the giants of Australian racewalking.