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VRWC Life Members - Ray Smith



Born in 1929, Ray competed as a junior with Coburg Harriers and quickly broke through into the top senior ranks with the silver medal at the 1949 Australian track titles at only 20 years of age. From then on, he was a regular placegetter in the major championships, showing talent over all distances.

Ray joined the famous Cerutty group at Portsea in 1953 and was advised by him for the remainder of his career. In 1954 he decided to train for the 1956 Olympic 50 km event and started what was for him his most important walking period. This culminated with his top walking performances in the 1955-56 timeframe.

The 1955/56 Australian rankings saw him head the the 20 km walk lists (99:24). He won the 1956 Australian 50km which was also the Olympic trial (4:40:24). This was his first race over the distance and broke the Australian record. This gained selection, with Crawford and Allsopp, in the 50km for the 1956 Olympic Games where he finished sixth (4:56:08) a few months later. This was his second and last race over the distance.

 1948 Victorian Championship 10 mile Walk-Silver
 1949 Australian Championship 2 mile Walk-Silver
 1949 Victorian Championship 2 mile Walk-Bronze
 1950 Victorian Championship 10k Walk-Gold
 1950 Australian Championship 10k Teams Walk-Silver
 1950 Victorian Championship 2 mile Walk-Gold
 1951 Victorian Championship 10 mile Walk-Silver
 1951 Australian Championship 2 mile Walk-Bronze
 1952 Victorian Championship 2 mile Walk Silver
 1952 New South Wales Championship 2 mile Walk-Gold
 1955 Victorian Championship 50k Walk-Silver
 1956 Australian Championship 50k Teams Walk-Silver
 1956 Australian Championship 50k Walk-Gold
 1956 Australian Championship 2 mile Walk-Bronze
 1956 Olympic Games - Melbourne 50k Walk-Sixth

Soon after this, Ray retired from serious competition and threw himself into the sport as an official, administrator and judge. This culminated in his appointment as an IAAF judge. In this capacity, he officiated at many international meetings in the 1980s and the 1990s. His list of non-competitive achievements in the sport shows just how much he has contributed on various levels.

Life Member - Athletics Victoria
Life Member, Past President - Victorian Race Walking Club
Life Member - Coburg Harriers Club
Former Member - IAAF Walking Committee
IAAF Walk Judge 1977 - 1995
Former Member - Athletics Australia Walking Committee
Past Vice President - Australian Federation of Race Walking Clubs
Former Member - VLAA Walk Standards Panel
Former Member - Athletics Victoria Officials Committee
Manager - Victorian Walking Teams
Convenor - VAAA Race Walking Selectors
Founding Member Steering Committee for - Victorian Veterans Athletic Club
Officiated as walk judge in all states of Australia, ACT and Northern Territory.
Officiated as walk judge in the following countries - Australia, China, England, Germany,  Isle of Mann, Italy, Korea, New Zealand, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, USA and former USSR.

During his 19 years as an IAAF judge, he judged nearly every year at international competitions and could lay claim to be our most experienced judge. His international judging career covered the following major meets
1975 Australian Team Tour Singapore - Judge
1977 3rd Pacific Conference Games Canberra - Judge
1979 IAAF Race Walking World Cup Eschborn, FRG - Judge
1979 Australian Team Tour Boras, Sweden - Judge
1980 XX11 Olympic Games Moscow - Judge
1982 X11 Commonwealth Games Brisbane - Judge
1985 Australia Games - 85 Melbourne - Judge (chief)
1985 IAAF Race Walking World Cup Isle of Mann - Judge
1986 X111 Commonwealth Games Edinburgh - Judge
1986 British Junior Road Championships Morecambe - Judge
1987 IAAF Race Walking World Cup New York - Judge (chief)
1987 IAAF World Championships Rome - Judge
1987 IAAF World Indoor Championships Indianapolis - Judge
1987 Republic of China, National Games Zhengzhou - Judge
1987 World Veteran Games Melbourne - Judge (chief)
1988 XX1V Olympic Games Seoul - Judge
1989 IAAF Race Walking World Cup Barcelona - Judge (chief)
1989 AIS - Seiko Invitational Canberra - Judge (chief)
1990 X1V Commonwealth Games Auckland - Judge (chief)
1991 IAAF Race Walking World Cup San Jose, Cal. - Judge
1992 IAAF World Junior Championships Seoul - Judge
1995 World Police and Fire Games Melbourne - Judge

Ray remained active in the Victorian Race Walking Club throughout his later years, judging there regularly until he eventually decided to hang up the paddles in 2006. At the same time, he finally stopped producing his weekly VRWC news bulletin on race days and retired from his position as club communications office. But Ray was never one to sit back quietly so he simply moved to the video camera, experimenting as he went, and producing high quality weekly videos of all VRWC races right up till the end of the 2009 winter season. He was in his element sitting in the clubrooms the next week and explaining to the intricacies of the walking technique and how each could improve his/her style. His knowledge of the sport was encyclopedic and his enthusiasm never slowed with the passing years. This willingness to ‘put in’ made him a highly valued member of the VRWC Committee and the club and we shall all miss him greatly.

Ray died on Friday 4th June 2010, aged 80. He remained healthy, involved and interested in all things athletic until the end.

When asked a few years ago to summarise his Olympic achievement, he commented as follows:

Percy Cerruty turned me into a well trained plodder who found 15 minutes of fame in the longest event on the track and field program.”

Tim Erickson
Secretary, Victorian Race Walking Club
Friday 4 June 2010