The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 2 (May 1, 1939)
Panorama of the Playground — A Forward Step In Amateur Athletics — Specially Written for “N.Z. Railways Magazine,” by W. F. Ingram
Panorama of the Playground
A Forward Step In Amateur Athletics
Specially Written for “N.Z. Railways Magazine,” by W. F. Ingram.
On March 25th, a new page in the history of amateur athletics in New Zealand was written. On that date the first national track and field championship meeting for junior and women atheletes was held. Auckland, where enthusiasm for such a meeting has been keen for some time, had the distinction of staging the inaugural meeting and the success of the venture indicates that New Zealand possesses young athletes of near-international class. All that is needed is competition against star athletes.
An outstanding performer at the meeting was Colin McGregor, winner of the 100 and 220 yds. junior titles. McGregor, an Otago representative, had won his senior provincial sprint title but did not make the trip to the national senior championships where A. R. Duff (second to McGregor at Dunedin) was placed third in the senior championship. Running in beautiful style, McGregor won the 100 yds. title at Auckland in 10 1/5sec. on a track not suited for speed.
Elsewhere on this page I give the Canadian junior records for the purpose of comparison with the performances registred at New Zealand's first junior track and field championships and I think readers will agree that the destiny of New Zealand in track and field sport is in safe hands if the juniors are given encouragement.
Another athlete to take my eye as a prospective senior champion is Jim Bourke, of Taranaki. Bourke, a welldeveloped lad, won the shot-putting title with a heave of 45ft. 9 7/8in. This was his first competition against athletes from outside the boundaries of his own district, but he completely overshadowed his rivals and with coaching he should develop into a better shot-putter than Peter Munro, who at the same age could not reach Bourke's mark.
R. McKenzie, junior javelin throwing champion, who has thrown the senior javelin to 170ft. 11 ¾in., won the junior title with 175ft. 3 ¾in. McKenzie travels from Waikouaiti to Dunedin to get competition and on his showing at Auckland he bids well to follow in the footsteps of Stan Lay, former British Empire champion. Only 17 years of age, McKenzie ranks as one of the best junior javelin throwers in the Empire.
For the purpose of comparison I give the Canadian junior records, as at November, 1935, and the performances of New Zealand junior athletes at the first junior national championship meeting. The N.Z. figures may not be records, but as they were made under strict control they serve as an example of our high standard. Here are the figures:
|880yds.||2min. 2 3–5sec.|
|One Mile||4 min. 41 2–5sec.|
|High Jump||5ft. 10 ½in.|
|Broad Jump||24ft. 11in.*|
|Pole Vault||10ft. 10 5/8in.|
|Shot Putt||47ft. 9 ¼in.|
|Javelin||180ft. 2 ½in.|
|880yds.||2min. 2 4–5sec.|
|One Mile||4 min. 37sec.|
|High Jump||5ft 7in.|
|Broad Jump||20ft. 8 ½in.|
|Pole Vault||10ft. 2in.†|
|Short Putt||45ft. 9 7/8in.|
|Javelin||175ft. 3 ¾in.|
Miss Decima Norman.
British Empire champion at three events, Miss Decima Norman, of Perth (West Australia) did much to popularise women's athletics during her short tour of the Auckland province in March. Beaten by the New Zealander, Miss Doreen Lumley, who equalled the world's record of 11sec. for 100yds., Miss Norman came back to turn the tables on her rival and also equal the world's record. Miss Norman followed this up by winning three New Zealand track championships at the women's inaugural national track and field championships.
Miss Norman's style of sprinting is against all accepted rules, but she possesses energy to burn and seemed to put more enthusiasm into her sprinting than do New Zealand athletes.
Accompanying Miss Norman as manageress—not chaperone, she requested it be made known—was Mrs. D. Magee, Secretary of the Australian Women's Amateur Atheletic Union. Mrs. Magee worked hard to secure an interchange of visits between New Zealand and Australian feminine atheletes and there seems reason to suggest that her mission will succeed.
New Zealand's feminine athletes reached a high-class of competition at the inaugural meeting and proved that they could hold their own in international competition if given more chances of competing against recognised stars. This was the first occasion an overseas representative has competed against the pick of New Zealand's feminine athletes and the lessons learned will do much to raise an already high standard.
Sir Julien Cahn's Team.
When it was first announced that Sir Julien Cahn's cricketers were to visit New Zealand there was a feeling that cricketers and followers of the page break great old English game were going to be rewarded by seeing exhibitions of care-free batting, superlative fielding and masterly bowling. However, they were doomed to disappointment. The tour was not a success. The visiting players seemed to be keeping both eyes on the all-important averages—that bugbear of big cricket—and did not entertain the public with the type of cricket anticipated. This was most unfortunate as cricket can do with a little brightening up in New Zealand.
Another New Zealand Representative Cricketer Departs.
H. G. Vivian, considered by many sound critics to be one of New Zealand's best cricketers, has left New Zealand to link up with Sir Julien Cahn in a business-cricketing capacity. No doubt Vivian was influenced by the success attained by C. S. Dempster and Roger Blunt, fellow New Zealanders, while associated with Sir Julien, but the continual departure of our best young cricketers is not doing the sport any good in New Zealand. With Merritt, Blunt, Dempster and Vivian gone, New Zealand has lost a quartette of exceptionally fine cricketers.
A Promising Runner.
Cash athletics—I never use the term “professionals” when referring to New Zealand atheletes who compete for cash—occasionally produces an outstanding competitor. One such is J. Gilmore, a young farmer, who won the Federation Handicap, of one mile, at the Stawell (Victoria) Easter sports. Gilmore, from 40yds., ran the distance in 4min. 8 4/5sec., completely demoralising a strong field. Gilmore does not secure much competition, but on the face of it he would appear to be a better miler than V. P. Boot. Boot, although acclaimed by many as a great miler, does not, in my opinion, reach the same heights over 1,760 yards as he does in the half-mile. An attempt is to be made to stage a big cash athletics and cycling meeting during the Centennial, and New Zealand could invite the world's best milers with the knowledge that Gilmore is capable of extending all-comers.
Maurice Strickland, New Zealand heavyweight boxer, has been steering an erratic course in his quest for the world's boxing championship. After knocking out nine opponents in succession he went in against the wellperformed Bob Pastor, one of the few men to last the distance against Joe Louis. Pastor, carefully tutored to guard against Strickland's all-powerful right hand, kept the New Zealander offbalance, with the result that our man won only one round of the ten contested. This should not put Strickland out of the running; when Pastor lost to Louis it was admitted that he had made the champion-to-be look amateurish.
* By Sammy Richardson, Empire Games champion in 1934.
† Seldom contested by New Zealand juniors.