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Tim's Hall of Fame

Australian racewalking has always produced more than its fair share of champions and many of them have excelled on the world stage. But a Hall of Fame is something special - it exists to recognize the best of the best. As such, it should be an elite subset of our international walkers and should highlight those whose contribution stands out against all others.

Unfortunately, no such official recognition exists. Athletics Australia does have its own Hall of Fame but it lists only 15 recipients, none of them walkers. Hence I have done my own review and have put together my own Australian Racewalking Hall of Fame. Yes, it is completely subjective but, in the lack of anything more official, it is a start.



Tim's Hall of Fame - Men  

George Parker George took silver in the 1920 Olympic 3000m racewalk, thus becoming Australia's first Olympic racewalking medallist. He then retired and did not return to competition until late 1924. Over the next 4 years, he rewrote the Australian record books and set new standards for walking excellence. Unfortunately, he walked in an era where there were few opportunities to compete on the international stage.

Ted Allsopp Ted had the longest top level career of any Australian walker before or since. Over a 26 year period at the top, he won 23 Australian (11 gold) and 66 Victorian (32 gold) road medals, apart from his many track medals. He excelled at all distances and represented Australia at 2 Olympics (1956 and 1954) but it could just as easily been 5 Olympics. In 1952, 1960 and 1968, he was the unlucky one who missed out even though his performances seemed sufficient for selection. On 22 September 1956, he set an official World Record for the 2 Hour Track Walk (16 miles 403 yards).

Don Keane Don represented Australia at the 1952 (10th in the 10,000m walk) and 1956 (6th in the 20km walk) Olympics but this does not tell the whole story. A multi talented athlete who was equally at home running cross country or track or walking or hurdling, he set a new Australian Junior 1 Mile walk record in 1948 and then broke the Open 2 Mile walk record in 1950 in his first year as a Senior to the first of an amazing 7 Australian Open 2 Mile track walk titles. In 1956 in the same race where Ted Allsopp set his World 2 Hour Record, Don set new British Empire records for all distances from 10km to 20km, only falling 10.2 secs short of the then 20km world record. When on song he was unbeatable, boasting an impeccible technique matched by sheer speed and awesome strength.

Ron Crawford Ron represented Australia at 3 Olympics - 1956, 1960 and 1964, a feat which few Australian walkers have achieved. A consummate racer, he was not concerned with fast times but only with winning and he produced most of his best times in National Championships and major trials.

Noel Freeman Noel Freeman took silver in the 1960 Olympic 20km final at 21 years of age, came fourth four years later in the 1964 Olympic 20km and was denied a third Olympic shot for gold in 1968 in circumstances that still wrangle over 40 years later. It is to his credit that he bounced back in 1970 to take gold in the Commonwealth Games 20 mile event.

Bob Gardiner Bob and Noel Freeman dominated from the mid sixties through to the early seventies, engaging in many memorable battles over a variety of distances. The ultimate competitor, Bob consistently rose to the occasion and won Australian championships and big races at all distances from 2 Miles to 50km. Selected in 3 Olympics (1964, 1968 and 1972) as well as in the 1970 Commonwealth Games, as well as in various international matches of the time, he was as consistent as they come. His career highlights included 5th in the 1964 Olympic 50km and 2nd in the 1970 Commonwealth Games 20 Miles. Holder of the National Road and Track 50km records, he also won an amazing 5 Australian Track walk titles in a row and was one of the few competitors to hold the Australian 2 Mile Track, 20km road and 50km road titles at the same time.

Frank Clark NSW walker Frank Clark represented Australia in the inaugural 1068 Commonwealth Games 20 Miles walk and then earned selection in both the 20km and 50km at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, finishing 16th in the 20km and 12th in the 50km. He won 13 Australian Championship medals over all distances from 3000m to 50km and in every year bar one from 1960 to 1971. Along with Bob Gardiner and Noel Freeman, he dominated the Australian front in the sixties.

Willi Sawall Willi did not take up racewalking until 33 years of age but he soon made up for his late start, setting new Australian and Commonwealth standards over all distances. He became the first Australian to break 4 hours for 50km and eventually reduced his 50km time to 3:46:54. His participation in 2 Olympics, 3 Commonweath Games, 3 World Cups and 2 IAAF World Championships is amazing considering his late start and his last international representation was at the age of 45. He broke Australian records on 42 occasions and he maintained his wonderful form into his mid fifties (he recorded 1:35:25 for 20km at 55 years of age!).

David Smith David burst onto the Australian racewalking scene in the late seventies as a young aggressive track-based speedster. As he moved to the road, he and Willi Sawall battled for supremacy, beating each other's records and matching each other step for step. Eventually David won out (a case of youth winning out over age) and during the 1980s he was untouchable over all distances up to 30km. No one else set so many records or consistently walked so fast for such a long period of time as David and his aggressive walking from the front inspired a whole new breed of walkers including Simon Baker and Nick A'Hern. His Australian records included 3000m (11:00.56), 5000m (18:52.87), 10000m (38:06 - still standing), 20km (1:19:22) and 30km (2:05:59). HIs best international result was bronze in the 1985 World Indoors 5000m.

Michael Harvey Michael represented Australia in 10 successive World Racewalking Cups (the first in 1981 at 18 years of age and the last in 1999 at 36 years of age. This is unmatched on the world stage in terms of longevity of form. Along the way, he also represented in the 1984 Olympics and the 1987, 1993 and 1995 IAAF World Championships. We are unlikely to ever see this World Cup representative record matched.

Simon Baker Simon became our sole World Racewalking Cup winner when he won the 50km event in Barcelona in 1989. He took second in the 50km event in the 1991 World Cup in San Jose, showing that it was no fluke. A 1986 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, he represented Australia in a record 4 Olympics as well as 4 IAAF World Championships and 6 World Cups. One of our most prolific walkers ever as well as one of our best.

Andrew Jachno Andrew had a great career that included 3 Olympics, 3 Universiades, 2 Commonwealth Games, 3 World Indoors, 5 World Racewalking Cups and 1 IAAF World Champ representations. His best international results included 3rd and 4th in Universaides and 2nd in the 1990 Commonwealth Games. Possessed of amazing speed, his 1991 3000m Commonwealth record of 10:56.22 still stands some 18 years later. His PBs of 38:49 (10km), 1:20:43 (20km) and 3:53:23 (50km) show his huge talent over all distances.

Nick A'Hern Nick dominated Australian racewalking throughout the 1990s, winning 2 Commonwealth Games gold medals (1994 and 1998) and taking 4th place in the 1996 Olympic 20km. His sheer speed set him apart from most of his compatriots and his National Record of 18:51.39 (5000m) set a new standard for speed endurance.

Duane Cousins Duane has made the 50km distance his specialty and has won representation in 7 Racewalking World Cups, 2 Olympics, 3 Commonwealth Games and 1 IAAF World Championship. His career highlights include 2nd (1998) and 4th (2002) in successive Commonwealth Games. He has more sub-4 50km finishes than any other Australian and his 50km PB of 3:53:19, done in 2006, cements his place amongst our top long distance exponents.

Dion Russell Dion cut a swathe through the Junior ranks (he won an amazing 17 underage Australian championships), setting new Australian records over all distances along the way and representing at 2 World Junior champs. Amongst his many outstanding underage records were 41:05 for 10,000m U20 and 11:47 for the 3000m U19. Equally adept at both 20km and 50km, he was in just about every Open team from 1995 to 2000 (his career included representations at 2 World Juniors, 1 Universiade, 3 World Cups, 2 IAAF World Champs, 2 Olympics and 1 Commonwealth Games) before a surprise retirement after the 2000 Olympics, aged only 25.

Nathan Deakes A bronze medal in the 1996 World Junior championships marked the start of Nathan's stellar international career. His ongoing excellence has seen him rarely outside the top 5 in major competition and his record includes 4 Commonwealth Games gold (2002 and 2006) and one bronze (1998) medals, a Goodwill Games gold medal (2001), a Racewalking World Cup bronze medal (2004), an Olympic bronze medal (2004) and an IAAF World Championship gold medal (2007) - a grand total of 9 medals in major international races. His 20km PB of 1:17:33 stands far ahead of any other Australians and his 50km World Record of 3:35:47 (2006) was an astonishing performance on a tough Geelong course and adverse weather. The ultimate competitor!

Luke Adams Luke has been amongst our top walkers since he burst onto the international scene in the last 1990s. His career highlights include representations in 1 World Junior, 5 Racewalking World Cups, 1 Universiade, 2 Commonwealth Games, 4 IAAF World Champs and 2 Olympics. Top performances include Comm Games silvers in 2002 and 2004, 5th in the 2003 World Championship 20km, 6th in the 2008 Olympic 20km and 6th in the 2009 World Championship 50km along with a series win in the 2007 IAAF World Walkng Challenge. Rarely outside the top 10 in international races, Luke has now added the 50km to his portfolio and looks set for a big next few years.

Jared Tallent Jared's two Olympic medals in 2008 - 3rd in the 20km and 2nd in the 50km - made him the first Australian male Track and Field athlete in 100 years to win 2 medals at a single Olympics. A versatile walker, he also holds the Commonwealth and National 5000m records at 18:41.83 and seems at ease over all distances. A proven big time performer who seemingly medals in just about every major international, he has the world at his feet and the next few years should see more staggering performances. His medal count stands as follows
2006 Commonwealth Games - bronze in 20km
2008 Olympic Games - bronze in 20km and silver in 50km
2010 World Walking Cup - bronze in 50km
2010 Commonwealth Games - gold in 20km
2011 - World Championships - bronze in 50km
2012 World Walking Cup - bronze in 50km
He is our most highly performed walker of all time based on this ever growing list.

Chris Erickson Definitely a late developer, Chris did not make his first Australian team until the age of 23 (2004 World Cup). Since then, he has gone on to represent us at 5 World Cups (2004-2012), 2 Commonwealth Games (2006, 2010 - including a bronze medal performance in 2006), 2 IAAF World Championships (2007 and 2009) and now 2 Olympics (2008 and 2012). He has made every team bar one since 2006. One of our most consistent performers and an A qualifier at both 20km and 50km, he shows what can be achieved with hard work and a good attitude. Aged 30, he is still improving and has recorded PBs over both Olympic distances in the last 6 months.

Dane Bird-Smith 24 year old Dane Bird-Smith showed his immense talent early with 8th in the 2009 World Youth Championships and 5th in the 2010 World Junior Championships and it did not take him long to replicate that success from the junior to the senior ranks. Aged only 24, he already boasts 4 Racewalking World Cup appearances, 2 IAAF World Championships and one Olympic appearance. And the performances have been stellar, with the last 3 years including World University Games gold (2015) as well as Racewalking World Cup fourth place and Olympic bronze (2016). Add to that second placings overall in the 2014 and 2015 'Around Lake Taihu' 4 day rally in China as well as whole swag of Australian and Commonwealth bests from 1500m to 10,000m and you have an amazing record for one so young. The sky's the limit for Dane!




Tim's Hall of Fame - Women  

Sue Cook Sue was Australia's first female superstar walker. Walking in an era before Olympic representation, her 21 National medals (13 gold), two World Championship victories (1978 and 1982), her bronze at the 1983 Eschborn Cup, her selection in all Eschborn Cup teams from 1979 to 1987 and over 30 World Records or World Best Times have given her a permanent place in the history of race walking.

Sally Pierson Sally competed for Australia in our first 3 World Cup appearances, coming 11th (1979), 6th (1981) and 4th (1983). In her 1983 walk, the first 4 finishers all broke the current world best for the 10km road walk. She also competed in the 1985 Universiade, taking 7th. She won her first Australian Open title (5000m track walk) at only 15 years of age and her first international appearance in 1979 saw her only 16 years of age and marked her out as something special. Equally adept as a runner, she represented Australia in the 1983 and 1985 World Cross Country Champs and the 1984 IAAF World 10km road running championship as well as winning Australian 10km road running and cross country titles to go with her many Australian track and road walking titles and records. Sadly, she retired in 1985 at only 22 years of age.

Lorraine Jachno Lorraine's career highlights included 6 Racewalking World Cups, 2 IWF World Champs, 1 IAAF World Champ, 1 Universiade and 1 Commonwealth Games and should also have included the 1992 Olympics (still can't figure out why she was left out of that team). Coming from the pre-Olympic era, she represented Australia in nearly every possible women's competition from 1979 to 1991. One of the toughest competitors we have seen, she walked herself into the ground on every occasion and I remember her memorable 4th place in the 1990 Commonwealth Games as an example of giving it her all.

Kerry Saxby-Junna Kerry took over from Sue and raised the bar to an even higher level, setting over 30 world records. Her legacy - national records of 11:51.26 (3000m), 20:03.0 (5000m) and 41:30 (10km). She burst onto the world scene with 10th in the 1985 World Cup and maintained her form over an astonishing 16 years, culminating in 7th in the 2000 Olympic 20km walk at 39 years of age! Two Golds and one silver at World Indoors Championships, successive Commonwealth Games golds (1990 and 1994) as well as a Commonwealth Games silver (1998), IAAF World Championships silver and bronze (1987 and 1999), a World Cup silver (1989) and Goodwill Games gold (1986) and silver (1990) make her our most prolific medallist at major international competitions - an amazing 11 medals!

Jane Saville A World Junior silver medallist in 1992, Jane fought Kerry for supremacy over the next few years, eventually dethroning her and taking gold in the 1998 Commonwealth Games. This was the first of three Commonwealth Games golds for Jane (1998, 2002 and 2006). After having gold snatched from her in the dying moments of the 2000 Olympic 20km walk, her greatest moment came in the 2004 Olympics when she took the bronze medal, becoming the first female Australian walker to medal at what is regarded by all as the ultimate competition. Her 20km National record of 1:27:44, achieved when taking 4th place in the 2004 World Cup, is a long way ahead of anyone before or since. Her representation at 4 Olympics, 7 World Cups, 4 Commonwealth Games, 6 IAAF World Championships and 2 World Junior Championships makes her our most prolific international walker ever. Over a 19 year period, she maintained an excellence rarely seen.

Claire Tallent Claire Tallent nee Woods has had a stellar career which includes 2 Olympic selections, 4 IAAF World Cups, 2 IAAF World Championships, 1 Commonwealth Games (where she got silver) and 1 World University Games. Her 20km time of 1:28:53 puts her second only to Jane Saville in our all time rankings and, in the period from 2008 to 2012, she was unbeatable in Australian competition. She was the ultimate competitor, always giving her all in races and always prepared to train hard for success. A late developer, she was in every Australian team from 2008 to 2012. After the 2012 Olympics she announced her retirement from international athletics and now coaches her husband Jared in Adelaide where they have both moved, post AIS.

Regan Lamble Regan Lamble's 9th place in the Rio Olympics in 2016 was her best ever senior international finish and enough for me to add the talented young 24 year old Melbourne walker to my Hall of Fame. It came only a few months after her 12th place in the 2016 Racewalking World Cup in Rome in a PB 1:29:33, the third fastest 20km ever recorded by an Australian woman (behind Jane Saville and Claire Tallent). With an 8th place in the World Junior Championships 10,000m in 2010, she showed just how talented she was and she has now confirmed it with her performances in the senior ranks. With 2 Olympics, 4 Racewalking World Cups and one World Champs appearance, she is already a seasoned competitor but the best is yet to come.