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The Spike [: or, Victoria University College Review 1957]

Athletic Club

page 82

Athletic Club

"Only by the success of our Athletic Club can Victoria College continue to exist."

"—V.U.C. Debating Club, 1912

Records do not show if the debate was resolved in the affirmative"—one hopes not, for we have been awarded the wooden spoon for the last five years at least, but paradoxically four of these years have been generally successful. In 1953, and again in 1954, the men's senior A team was undefeated in Wellington interclub competition, due largely to the efforts of two all-rounders, John Hawkes and Ieaun Hyslop, who between them could claim places in all track and field events up to 880 yards. Supported by a large (by Wellington standards) team of athletes, and traditionally capable in distance events, the club was seldom extended.

In 1956 the College won for the first time the fifty-year-old McVilly Shield as provincial champions. This was repeated in 1957 by a comfortable win over Lower Hutt A.A.C. John Hawkes, with George Hourigan as runner-up, took all three hurdles titles. Hawkes, a fine natural athlete, competed with distinction in the national decathlon in 1956, and in winning the national 440 yards hurdles championship this year in the excellent time of 53.9 seconds gave Victoria its first New Zealand title since Ikar Lissienko's 140-foot discus throw in 1952. He was later to win the N.Z.U. title in 56.6 seconds, unfortunately competing for O.U., as does Michael Hansen, our 1956 provincial 440 yards champion.

Hawkes and Hansen, club members since their medical intermediate days, have been key members in several good relay teams. Their departure south at the end of each season accounts in part for the reversal of early form that is noticed at tournament. In 1956 a 4 × 110 yards team"—Hawkes, Hansen, Barry Waller (a junior), and Rob Irwin, were deprived of a Wellington record by a technicality, and Hansen in the same year was a member of the Wellington team that created new national figures.

Easter Tournament in 1956 at the Basin Reserve showed our field events athletes in poor light. The complete ban on throwing or jumping at Kelburn Park, and the absence of any other facilities near the College has left us very poorly equipped. (Victoria College has won the shot putt at tournament but once in the fifty years the event has been held. Recent outstanding performances have all been in track events. Graham Stevens took the N.Z.U. title in 1954 with a record time of 14 minutes 48 seconds"—four seconds inside the 1949 figures of J. C. Hawke"—also of Victoria. At Auckland in 1955, Stevens ran second to Peter Joyce, who won the three mile in the near record time of 14 min. 49.2 sec., after winning the mile in 4 min. 22.8 sec. Joyce, incidentally, returned 4 min. 16.8 sec. this year in what is undoubtedly the fastest mile time achieved by a college athlete.

In May, 1956, a small N.Z.U. team toured New South Wales and Victoria, losing the Universities Test on an aggregate of places, but fully holding the Australian Universities in the number of titles won. Victoria College had two members in the team, all-rounder John Hawkes and sprinter Rob Irwin, the 1955 triple N.Z.U. title-holder.

Three years ago the club celebrated its fiftieth jubilee. Atrocious weather curtailed athletic events, but a Friday evening function, with Sir Matthew Oram (a first interfaculty competitor) as guest speaker, was very well attended. The souvenir booklet produced is a notable record of five decades of university athletics.

Reluctantly the club has severed its connection with Kelburn Park. A 100 per cent. increase in ground rent in 1956 made the holding of sports on that ground prohibitive. A university club to maintain its identity must be associated with the campus, and the new Te Aro Park, tucked in a gully over the hill as it will be, holds promise of full-scale club nights with opportunity for jumpers and throwers. Perhaps then there will be women athletes too. At present interest in women's athletics is nil, but we have had N.Z.U. champions, and national place getters, and the material is available"—or is it considered unladylike?