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VRWC Life Member - Gus Theobold



The popular and amazing Gus Theobald was born in April 1897 and joined the Victorian Walkers Club in 1931, just after Frank McGuire. A comparative late starter in athletics at 35, he had nearly 59 years of competitive racing until, at the age of 93, he was tragically stuck by a car and killed while crossing a road in suburban Ormond on August 8 1990.

Gus finished third in the Victorian 50km title in 1935 at 38, claiming he turned to walking 'because I thought I was too old to compete in other events'. Gus went on to win the Victorian 50km title in 1949.

Gus was a hardworkng club member of VRWC and, being an electrician, he offered his services and did the electrical work for the Alf Robinson Clubrooms which were built at Albert Park in the early sixties.

Gus was awarded his life membership of VAWC in 1961 but he was regarded as a senior member of the club long before that. When the club reformed in 1946, one of the first trophies to be set up was the Gus Theobold Trophy and it was contested for some years.

This trophy was re-instituted by VRWC in 1990 and is awarded annually to the winner of the Open Mens 20 km Club Championship.

During his illustrious career he was president of the Glenhuntly Club from 1958 to 1972. During that period it was Victoria's most successful distance club boasting internationals Ron Clarke, Pat Clohessy, Trevor Vincent, Chris Wardlaw, Rob De Castella and Pat Scammall among its membership. Gus officiated at the 1956 Olympic and 1962 Commonwealth Games and was very proud when awarded life membership of the Glenhuntly Club.

Gus was a member of the VAAA since 1932, with 58 years of racing. He was the second longest competing walker. Only Tom Daintry could match his record.

Gus loved travelling and competing.  He drove his van to the Lake Burley Griffin Carnival in 1972 (at 75 years of aage) and finished the 20mile event in front of 4 walkers half his age. He continued to drive his van till the day he died.

A foundation member of the veteran movement in 1971, Gus was unbeaten over the 5km and 20km distances in his world age divisions. He won the coveted double at Toronto in 1975, Gothenburg in 1977, Christchurch in 1981, Rome in 1985, Melbourne in 1987 and at Eugene in 1989.

His times at these veteran championships showed that he could still walk a good pace that belied his years. In Gothenburg in 1977 he clocked 30:42 for the 5000m walk as an 80 year old. In Christchurch in 1981 as an 83 year old, he clocked 43:46 for the 5000m walk. In Rome in 1985 as an 88 year old, he clocked 34:53. In Melbourne in 1987 as a 90 year old, he clocked 35:18 and in Eugene in 1989 as a 92 year old, he clocked 39:49. His last big races were the Australian National Veteran titles in Melbourne in April 1990 when he once again won the 5000m/20km double – he had been unbeaten in National Veteran titles since their inception in 1972.