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VRWC Life Member - Peter Vysma



1978 Commonwealth Games Trial in Melbourne - Bill Dyer, Clarrie Jack, Bruce Cook and a young Peter Vysma

Peter first came to Melbourne in the late 1960s. As a Officer Cadet in the airforce, he was posted to the Point Cook Airforce Base and started studying a Science Degree (aeronautics) at Melbourne University.

Peter was introduced to the longer distances early in his walking career as the VAWC 40 km club championship was contested on a course from the Point Cook Airforce Base to Werribee South and return and it was Peter who was our local liason at the Airforce base.

He went on to have a strong career which included a number of Victorian and Australian championship medals.  Highlights in the seventies included the following

  • 1975 Australian 50 km championship 4th 4:47:21
  • 1976 Australian 20 km Championship 3rd 1:41:28
  • 1976 Victorian 50 km Championship 1st 4.38.49
  • 1977 Victorian 15 km Championship 2nd 1.10.08
  • 1977 Victorian 30 km Championship 3rd 2.32.00
  • 1977 Australian 50 km Championship 3rd 4:34:33

As the 1970s drew to a close, Peter had to focus on his professional career and his walking diminished in priority. But he still continued to pop up with good performances as the following results show

  • 1984 Victorian 50 km Championship 3rd 4.40.21
  • 1986 Victorian 30 km Championship 2nd 2.42.54
  • 1987 Australian 50 km Championship 3rd 4:45:37
  • 1988 Victorian 50 km Championship 3rd 4.53.00

A life threatening motor bike accident on the way to work on the morning of the 14th September 1999 ended his walking career - “so 14/11 as a lot more significance to me than 9/11”.

“It was slow and long recovery. - three major operations and several minor ones, and three and a half months in hospital, has left me with limited mobility in one leg - but I still have two legs to walk on. It has now been over seven years since the accident, but it has been only in the last couple of years that I have realized how lucky I have been. I can now walk unassisted and have no pain in the leg, but it could have been a lot different - the first operation took over six hours, during which the surgeons, managed to re-construct the lower leg and knee. - it was a touch and go at the time, as to whether the leg could be saved. Despite there being extensive nerve damage. I still have control of most of the leg muscles - I can wriggle my toes and move the foot, but there is little feeling in the lower leg - due to the damage to the sensory nerves.”

Peter had been both an athlete and official for MUAC for many years (he recently received a 20 year award as an AV official) so after he was finally out of hospital, he threw himself fully into a life as a full time athletics official. He had previously done some racewalk judging at interclub and had learned the finer points of judging from Jack Boucher. With Ray Smith's encouragement, he steadily increased his judging knowledge and took over the Chief Judge's position at VRWC when Ray retired from active judging. He now judges regularly at all levels up to national level and has recently earned his B grade judging accreditation.

Peter has been a member of the Victorian Race Walking Club since the early 1970s when he first joined as a junior member. His history with the club includes many milestones which I shall briefly list here

  • Over 30 years of continuous club membership.
  • A regular member of Victorian and VRWC Federation teams from the 1970s onwards
  • A member of the VRWC Committee since 2000.
  • The VRWC Athletics Victoria Delegate since 2000.
  • Our most regular VRWC judge (Peter is always there!) and the current VRWC Judging Coordinator. Peter judges at all Victorian championships, whether in Melbourne or in the country and can always be relied upon when needed.
  • One of our main men for club maintenance jobs - whether putting in a new electrical switch, keeping the grass down near the back gate or putting up new shelves in the secretary's office.

He was awarded his VRWC Life Membership in 2007.