We were shocked to hear that Andrew Fraser died very recently. As Dave Evans noted in response to the sad news, Andrew was a regular supporter of our club races until a few years ago, much liked and respected. The photo above captures the camaraderie that grew between Lancashire and our brothers and sisters across the border – not least because of Andrew’s enthusiasm and energy.
So too Andrew supported Northern race walking in general and Trevor McDermot has penned these touching thoughts.
It was a sunny autumn day at the old Whitcliffe leisure centre in Cleckheaton when we first encountered Andrew Fraser of the Yorkshire RWC. A short, stocky, loveable bear of a man ambling around the car park barefoot, he was quite animated about that morning’s event as he enthused over the performances of others, even jumping with delight on hearing that the back marker had set a PB.
On another occasion his action looked particularly smooth when winning a league 10km at York in 50 minutes and change (not bad going on an up-and-down course), and he remarked afterwards how magically easy it felt. One of those days most athletes get to experience when everything just seems to click.
Having initially got involved with race walking in South Africa, he was living back home in Scotland and these instances were on his frequent trips south for meaningful races, despite the long drives. Andrew’s earnest hope was to get the discipline established in his native land and, such was his enthusiasm, he seemed to have no limit in trying to attain that dream. Friends at his Portobello club would be exhorted to have a go, local running promoters be prevailed upon to add a walking event, parkruns invaded and lessons offered afterwards, and English contacts invited to visit for coaching weekends in Edinburgh with everything paid for.
Fairly soon after he had Scotia RWC established, and with the support of Scottish Vets and others he was advertising championships on track and road. Video conference calls would be set up beforehand to go through the preparations and emails would arrive with a ton of bullet points involved, so keen was he to get everything just right. Andrew would bubble over with praise for the progress of all his members, and was extremely proud of Bill McFadden’s achievements. Unfortunately, In recent years he had gone off the grid with what we sadly heard were employment and relationship issues, and major problems with his health.
Often, a few days after one of our own promotions, a card would arrive from him full of thanks along with many kind words, which typified his warm, thoughtful and encouraging character. He shall be most fondly remembered. One imagines him now up there somewhere, racing tractors on some heavenly veldt.
RIP Andrew ❤️
Andrew’s hopefully enduring legacy is the revival of race walking in Scotland and the formation of the Scotia Race Walking Club, ably continued by Bill McFadden.
And, finally with the following photo taken by Linda of Andrew with Dave, both sadly no longer with us and Greg, all at Lancashire Walking Club offer our sincerest condolences. We remember Andrew with much affection and in terms of his contribution to our sport with great pride.
In addition I’ve copied and pasted these tributes from Facebook. I’ll be pleased to add more.
Tony Malone – Andrew was on a business trip to Stockport a few years ago we met up for chat, walk around old Stockport and a lunch together. It was a good day and still remember it when ever I pass that cafe, which I will be doing this morning as usual on a Tuesday. God bless you Andrew.
Brenda Lupton – Great words for lovely man he will be missed. R.I.P.
John Softley – I first met Andrew at Pollok parkrun in Glasgow. I was running and he finished just behind me racewalking! We struck up a conversation and went into the Burrell cafe for a coffee and became friends and I was soon racewalking! RIP Andrew.
Mark Williams – I remember him once travelling to a 10,000m track race in Birmingham, he set out in the early hours of the morning and travelled back straight after the race due to work commitments, he was incredibly interested and encouraging with everyone else performances. So sad to hear of his recent problems, such a sad loss of a really nice guy, a gentleman. May he rest in peace.
Peter Fawkes – A leading light in reviving Racewalking in Scotland. He made many friends and will be missed greatly.
Pamela Abbott – Such sad news. Andrew was so encouraging of those new to racewalking and generous with his time and expertise, and his energy and vision was a major contribution to the revival and success of racewalking in Scotland, such a loss to our community.
Dave Evans – A big shock and he will be greatly missed.
Catherine McGrath – Gosh, that is a shock. Such a lovely man.
Steve Uttley – Very sad news. RIP.
Steve Allen – That’s very sad to hear.
Edmund H Shillabeer – Oh were there more of his ilk!
Alistair Shand – Really shocked & saddened to hear the news about Andrew. We’d always intended to meet-up for a walk on one of my trips ‘back home’ north of the border, but unfortunately – as is so often the case with best-laid intentions – it never happened. However, I always enjoyed our chats at races. Will remember Andrew with great warmth and affection.
Bill and Kath Sutherland – It must be a really tough time for Scotia Race Walking Club and all its members and many friends of Andrew Fraser. He came from a very rare breed and bubbled in enthusiasm in everything he did and with everyone he met. Being privileged to have spent a long weekend with him in Portobello in 2014 I was able to relive the memories of the 1970 Commonwealth Games and my childhood and join Parkrun at scenic Crammond. What a wonderful host he was and he accompanied me to Glasgow for the C G Athletics..Let’s hope the Meadowbank Stadium can now be kept for eternity in his memory. We will all meet again. Rest in Peace.
Tony Bell – Sad news, here I was with Andrew a few years ago showing Callum Wilkinson how to do it 🙂
Greg Smith – Very sorry to hear of Andrew’s passing. He was generous in spirit and in action. The shorts I’m wearing in Linda McDermot’s photos of us (above) in the 2014 NARWA 35kms are Andrew’s — he lent them to me just before the start of the race, when I discovered I’d forgotten to bring mine! Since then I always travel to races with two pairs of shorts in my bag…RIP Andrew.
I am very pleased to republish Paul F. DeMeester’s coruscating critique of British Athletics’ disgraceful decision to exclude Cameron Corbishley and in particular Dominic King from the GB Olympic team and its craven role in supporting the abolition of the 50 kilometres race walk from the Olympic and World championship programmes. On the issue of the 50 kilometres’ execution, which strikes at the very heart and soul of our sport, we should not go gently into the night.
The piece first appeared in the Victoria Race Walking Club’s, Number 50 newsletter, ‘Heel and Toe’. In issue 49 Tim Erickson has put together a fascinating piece on the momentous history of 50 km walking in Australia. Recent copies of the newsletter can be found at http://vrwc.org.au/
The Decline and Fall of the British Empire
By Paul F. DeMeester
The 1928 Olympic Games went on sans race walking but before they were over, the IAAF (the former name of World Athletics) had decided to bring race walking back. Great Britain voted in Council in favor of a 50K (14 for 50K, 4 for 30K, and one abstention). (Handbook of the IAAF 1927-1928, Minutes of the 9th Congress of the IAAF, at pp. 56-57.)
British athletes showed their appreciation for that vote right out of the gate. Tommy Green won the inaugural Olympic 50K crown in Los Angeles in 1932.
Harold Whitlock succeeded him at the 1936 Berlin Games.
Tebbs Lloyd Johnson took bronze when the Games resumed in 1948 before a home crowd.
Whitlock returned in 1952 at age 48 (shades of Jesus Garcia) to finish 11th at the Helsinki Olympics, where his younger brother Rex just fell short of the podium.
Four years hence, a Brit took gold again, sort of, as New Zealander Norman Read, from Plymouth, England, had emigrated Down Under only three years before his Olympic triumph.
Don Thompson would return to the top step of the podium at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Half of the 50K gold through those Games had been placed around British necks (without counting Read’s).
It was the last British 50K gold but not the last medal. Paul Nihill took silver at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. A favorite for gold four years later, he dropped out in a grueling race at high altitude in Mexico City. Nihill finished 9th at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
But by 2004, there were no more Brits in the Olympic 50K, a sad state of affairs that continued in 2008 and just now at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. One 50K walker represented Britain at both the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics: Dominic King. King earned a third Olympic spot this year based on his World Rankings but he and his colleague Cameron Corbishley, who were ranked respectively in 56th and 53rd, were withdrawn by British Athletics from Olympic selection even though the top 60 on the World Rankings list gained an Olympic entry. Out of those 60, 38 had met the 3:50:00 entry standard, with the next 22 having qualified on points (World Ranking).
What a shame considering that the 11th place finisher (Montana – Colombia) at the recent Olympic 50K was 76th on the World Rankings list prior to the Olympics; the 15th place finisher (Leyver Ojeda – Mexico) was ranked 59th; the 17th place finisher (Helebrandt – Hungary) was ranked 74th; the 24th place finisher (Cocioran – Romania) was ranked 83rd; the 26th place finisher (Kinnunen – Finland) was ranked 92nd; the 27th place finisher (Amores – Ecuador) was ranked 98th; the 35th place finisher (the indomitable Jesus Angel Garcia of Spain – age 51) was ranked 65th; the 36th place finisher (Papamichail – Greece) was ranked 81st; the 39th place finisher (Litaniuk -Ukraine) was ranked 68th; the 40th place finisher (Mundell – South Africa) was ranked 95th; the 41st place finisher (Morvay – Slovakia) was ranked 69th; the 45th place finisher (Bilodeau – Canada) was ranked 94th; the 46th place finisher (Gdula – Czech Republic) was ranked 62nd; and one of the non-finishers (Singh – India) was ranked 103rd.
In other words, Dominic King had every right to be among those participants. More so if one considers that he set a new British National Record at the British Olympic 50K Trials race in Dudince on March 20, 2021, when King posted a 3:51:13. King was 10th overall in that race. The guy who was 5th was only 1 minute 50 seconds ahead of King. And who might that guy be? Poland’s Dawid Tomala, who happened to win the Olympic 50K in Sapporo in 3:50:08, 45 seconds slower than his Dudince time.
Dudince turned out to be a good barometer for Olympic participation and performance. Of the 9 walkers who placed ahead of Dominic King in Dudince, 8 walked in Sapporo. They placed 1st, 13th, 18th, 31st, 34th, 36th, and 44th, with one non-finisher. The one other walker could not go because three colleagues from his country filled the three per nation limit already. Of the walkers who finished behind Dominic in Dudince, 11 made it to the Olympic 50K this year, finishing in Olympic positions 15, 20, 24, 26, 37, 38, 40, 41, 43, and 46, with one non-finisher.
Dominic King should have been in that 50K Olympic race in Sapporo. The reason he wasn’t is that the British Athletics selection policies are riddled with conflicts of interest, a lack of transparency and an anti-athlete attitude. What do you mean, anti-athlete attitude? Isn’t British Athletics there for the athletes? Far from it. When Dominic wanted to improve on his Dudince time at the European Race Walking Team Championships in Podĕbrady last May, he bumped into his federation’s ‘nyet.’ British Athletics was not even subtle about it. They said so in their selection policy for the meet: “British Athletics will only select athletes for the 20km events for the 2021 edition of the competition.” (See British Athletics Selection Policy 2021 European Race Walking Team Championships. – attached below as a pdf).
It gets worse. World Athletics published a list of potential entries when the qualification period for the Olympic 50K had ended. King and Corbishley’s names were at the bottom of the list with the term “Withdrawn” next to their names. They were the only two listed in that fashion. How embarrassing for a federation to publicly state that its athletes who had qualified for the Olympic Games had been withdrawn by the federation itself. Don’t be fooled by any British Athletics talk that athletes like King would have been selected only if they were expected to be in the top 8 of their competition. A male British marathon runner managed to finish only in 54th place out of 106 starters, the other two Brits not having made it to the end. So much for the predictability of the British selection system.
British athletics officials acting against athletes in general, 50K walkers in particular? Who knew? They must have learned that from their British role model Seb Coe, who as President of World Athletics engineered the demise of the 50K not only at the Olympics but also at our own World Championships and who was the aider and abettor in the Olympic conspiracy to shrink the athletics footprint at the Games. What Seb won’t do in his quest to succeed IOC President Thomas Bach when the former Olympic fencing gold medalist will be term limited out of office.
What a far cry from the days in 1928 when British athletics officials voted to bring race walking back to the Olympics and inaugurate the 50K. Brits helped launch the 50K and less than a century later brought about its abolition. Dominic King is the kind of athlete who embodies the Olympic spirit that participation is more important than winning. He has a regular day job and a family. Race walking is his hobby. He has performed as well as he has over the years without much support from his federation. I was privileged to assist Dominic when he appealed his non-selection. But arguing with those who stabbed him in the back got the expected result. British Athletics should drop the term ‘athletics’ from its name. They do not deserve the appellation.
The Albert Rigby Trophy race is to go ahead as normal on Sarurday. October 2nd, starting at 1.30 p.m. from the Sutton Ex-Servicemen’s Club. Refreshments will be provided.
As usual it would be really helpful if you could let Dave Evans or Tony Taylor know if you are coming and in what capacity. For instance the Sutton course needs a number of marshalls. You cooperation is much appreciated.
I’ve been searching for a photo of Albert Rigby without success. However I hope you will indulge me posting an image of the start of a LWC 8 miles race held in May, 1938 from, I think, the club headquarters in West Didsbury.
A decent day to greet the walkers although the absence of a gate opener at the Bury Track half an hour before the off made us wonder if we would lose the event unless we could straddle the metal fence around the venue. After a number of frantic phone calls we were eventually let into the complex by a young lady who had little or no notice of our impending arrival. The prime key holder was on holiday and his deputy had forgotten to arrive.
Despite this unexpected hiccup the field of 10 walkers eventually hit the tartan fifteen minutes late. We were delighted to welcome back Steve Uttley, a Lancashire Walking club member decades ago , who certainly added to the ambience of the race and some real opposition.
The race began at a relatively casual pace with no one prepared to act as the hare but after a couple of laps the charge was underway and Steve set off with a clear objective of lapping the field. Tony Bell made a spirited challenge and Stuart Edgar looked like he meant business. Roy Gunnett and Glyn Jones we’re close rivals throughout most of the race and Ian Hilditch continues to improve.
Joe Hardy and Pat Evans continued their rivalry with neither managing to break away and it was only in the last two or three laps that Joe inched that bit further ahead.
Eric Horwill, Adrian Edwards, Greg Smith and Irene Pike ensured that we lap scored correctly and Keith Ackroyd, a new judge, made the long journey from Leeds which we appreciate. It was also nice to see Chris Harvey who could be back walking with us in the future.
Steve Uttley 9766 metres
Tony Bell 9250 metres
Stuart Edgar 8881 metres
Roy Gunnett 8720 metres
Glyn Jones 8705 metres
Ian Hilditch 8544 metres
Sailash Shah 8299 metres
Joe Hardy 8177 metres
Pat Evans 8155 metres
John Crahan 7783 metres
As ever sincere thanks to Greg Smith for the great photos.
The legendary Vladimir Golubnichy died on Monday, August 16 at the age of 85. There’s an outstanding tribute to his memory by Tim Erickson on the latest Victoria RWC Newsletter. It begins:
Born on 2nd June 1936, Golubnichiy medalled at four Olympic Games (2 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze), three European championships (gold, silver and bronze) and 2 Lugano Cups (2 silvers). He bettered the 20km World Record on 3 occasions, with two of those performances ratified as official records: 1:30:02.8 (02/10/1955, Kiev) and 1:27:05.0 (23/09/1958, Simferopol).
Read it in full by subscribing to the Newsletter, which is a mine of information and analysis via Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org
As it is remembering Vladimir took me back to a booklet, ‘Race Walking 1971’ put together over 50 years ago by Julian Hopkins and myself with Ron Wallwork type-setting. Within its pages Julian offered a piece on Golubnichy’s career up to that date. It seems fitting to revive Julian’s article.
Vladimir Golubnichiy, one of the great walkers of all time, was born at Sumy in the Ukraine on 2nd June, 1936. Volleyball and basketball first captured his attention, but in 1953 – aged 17 – he turned to walking guided by Polyakov, who still coaches him today. Outstanding results soon followed, for in the following year he covered 10 kms in 44:51.6 whilst 1955 saw Golubnichiy capture the world record for 20 kms. With a time of 90:02.8 he had become a world record holder at the precocious age, for a walker, of 19 years.
Nothing was heard of the Ukrainian in 1956 and the following season, although he took fourth in the Soviet championships, as he achieved little of great note. It was a different story in 1958 for as well as capturing the national title, Golubnichiy set a new world standard of 87:05 – a mark that remained on the books until 1969! True, he did go faster with 86:13.2 in 1959 but this mark, for some reason or other, never received ratification. Also in 1959 he made his international debut, winning easily against the U.S.A. – a victory he was to repeat in this match in 1962 and 1964.
Up to this time, Golubnichiy had proved himself to be the fastest 20 kms walker in history, but the stopwatch is not the ultimate judge of an athlete. How good a competitor was he? Was he just another Soviet walker who could record incredible times at home and yet fail to show the same pace in international competition?
The following year, 1960, was Olympic year and the Games were due to be held in Rome. Despite only finishing fifth (in 89:37!) in one of the trial races, the selectors had faith in his ability and he gained a place in the powerful U.S.S.R. team. The race was itself held on a hot, humid day which accounted indirectly for the failure of our own Ken Matthews. Setting a very brisk pace, the Briton led until just before half distance when he was overhauled by Golubnichiy. The after effects of ‘flu had weakened Matthews who later collapsed, whilst the muscular Ukrainian had built up a commanding lead by the 15 kms mark. With just 4 kms remaining he too began to suffer from the fast pace, and fading rapidly had to pull out all the stops to hold off the surprising 21 year old Australian Noel Freeman by 9.4 seconds. The winning time of 94:07.2, over 2.5 minutes outside the Olympic record, showed how slow conditions were on the day.
With not a great deal at stake, the following season was a quiet one for the Olympic champion. Never approaching top form he could place no higher than fifth in the National championships. Early in 1962, however, Golubnichiy began to show something like his best form when recording 42:47.8 for 10 kms on Leningrad’s indoor 200m track. In the big Znamenskiy Memorial meeting in July, his time for 20 kms was 89:16, whilst second place to Vedyakov in the U.S.S.R. championships earned him selection for the European Championships in Belgrade. This particular race was a big triumph for Ken Matthews who partly atoned for his disappointment in Rome by winning in 95:54.8 – the slow time a result of a hot day and a severe course. The Olympic champion never got on terms with the British star but looked set for the silver medal until overhauled nearing the finish by 21 year old Hans-Georg Reimann (East Germany), the surprise packet of the race. He did manage however to salvage the bronze by holding off his fast-finishing team-mate, Anatoliy Vedyakov.
Golubnichiy was not in his best form in 1963 although he did show that he was still a force to be reckoned with by gaining second place at the national championships in a season’s best of 92:02. In passing it might be noted that in July, during the Znamenskiy meeting, he suffered disqualification – the only one of his entire career!
He warmed up for the defence of his Olympic title in 1964 by taking second place in the Znamenskiy meeting (in a season’s best of 90:17) and capturing the Soviet title in August. But in Tokyo, he again had to be content with a bronze medal and again it was an Englishman and an East German who headed him at the tape. As is well known, Matthews scored a great victory by nearly 400 metres in an Olympic record time of 89:34, and although Golubnichiy hung on to Lindner’s early pace the East German moved clear in the second half of the race. Chasing Golubnichiy hard was none other than Noel Freeman, who failed by only 7.4 seconds to catch his man. In two 20 km races separated by four years and 8,000 miles, there was only 16.8 seconds between the Soviet walker and his Australian rival!
Despite the loss of his Olympic crown, Golubnichiy had quite a successful 1965 season. True he could manage no higher than sixth in the Znamenskiy meeting (two minutes behind winner Agapov) but he did capture the Soviet title with 90:15.6 in a track event and clock one of the fastest 30 kms on record (2:20.02). The following season he surprisingly lost his title to his old rival Vedyakov but ten days before the European Championships he showed himself to be ready with an 89:10 performance in his home town of Sumy. With Ken Matthews now retired, the championship race proved to be a repeat of the Lindner-Golubnichiy battle in Tokyo. On this occasion the result was in doubt until the closing stages, as these two great performers matched strides at the head of the field. With only a few kilometres remaining Golubnichiy received a caution and he had to ease, leaving Lindner to take the European title in the fast time of 89:25. Golubnichiy (90:06) with his best performance since his Rome victory of six summers earlier, took the silver just ahead of a rising star, fellow countryman, Nikolay Smaga.
In 1967, the U.S.S.R. entered the Lugano Cup competition for the first time and this seemed to inspire the 5’10” 172 lb sports teacher. In the giant Spartakiade meeting, as so often in domestic events, he failed to win but by finishing third in 88:54 he posted his fastest time for eight years. After an easy passage in the Lugano cup qualifying round, in which he tied for first place with his team-mates, the final at the East German spa town of Bad Saarow promised to be an outstanding battle between the Soviets and the home team – the holders of the trophy. Ron Laird (USA) and Peter Fullager split the field open with a searing pace from the gun but soon the Golubnichiy-Smaga partnership was on the scene and by half distance the American revelation was their only company. In the second half, the two Soviet walkers proved the stronger with Smaga breaking away near the finish to beat his compatriot by 20 seconds in the great time of 88:38.
And so to 1968 and the problems of walking at high altitude. In common with all other endurance event performers this must have presented a big mental and physiological challenge to Golubnichiy but, as so often in the past, he rose to the occasion in the grand manner. Throughout the season he showed fine form with second in the Znamenskiy meeting followed by a significant victory ahead of Agapov and Smaga in the national championships held 6,400 feet above sea level. Although the relative newcomer, Smaga was tipped by many to take the gold. Golubnichiy had other ideas. As expected these two dominated the race with Golubnichiy just the stronger and re-entering the stadium with a twenty yard lead. Sensational Mexican star Jose Pedraza, revelling in the thin air of the Mexican capital, shot past Smaga down the back straight and closed on his powerful red-vested rival. Was the little Mexican going to score a sensational victory? For a moment it looked possible, but then Golubnichiy drew upon his great experience and, no doubt, his last reserves to pull away coolly for a narrow victory.
The following year did not prove to be such a happy one for the Olympic champion as he only competed in one major race. This was in the USA v. Commonwealth v. U.S.S.R. match held in Los Angeles during July. The race brought together four of the top 20 km exponents in the world at that time: Golubnichiy, Smaga, Nihill and Laird. Some observers considered that Paul Nihill might well have won the 20 km in Mexico City had he competed
in this event instead of the 50 km. So here was a chance for Nihill, who was showing outstanding form at the time, to test his speed against the world’s best. The race, contested in rather sticky conditions, turned in to an intriguing tactical battle with 10 km being reached in only 47:15! Soon after the pace picked up a little but at 15 km – passed in 70:08 – the four main contenders were still grouped together. Nihill now produced a powerful finishing burst which by 18 km had dropped all his rivals except the Olympic champion. The Russian was finally shaken off in the last kilometre as Nihill went on to win in 91:49.8 having covered the last 5 km in a scintillating 21:41! Golubnichiy’s 92:11 clocking for second was to remain his fastest for the season and his absence from the European Championships in Athens led to rumours that he had retired.
Such rumours however were ill-founded for it later transpired that Golubnichiy had been injured after the Los Angeles event. So 1970 saw Golubnichiy, now 33 years of age, commence his fifteenth season of world class walking with third place in the Znamenskiy 20 km in early JUly. Later that month he showed a return to his greatest form in the U.S.S.R. v. USA match at Leningrad. Despite rain and a 5C temperature, Golubnichiy and Smaga finished together – the former gaining the verdict – in a fast 88:34.4 well ahead of the new US star Dave Romansky. Seven weeks later in the Soviet championships it was Smaga’s turn to gain a narrow victory – 90:21.6 to 90:21.8! Clearly the two Russian aces were in great form for the Lugano Cup final to be held in Eschborn, West Germany. In the 20 km event they were partnered by Agapov – the man who had beaten Golubnichiy’s world record in 1969. The three Soviet walkers hung grimly on to the searing pace set by East Germans Peter Frenkel and Hans-Georg Reimann, both of whom had beaten Agapov’s record earlier in the year. Firstly Agapov and then Smaga dropped back just before the 15 km mark was reached. When Frenkel became detached after 16 km, Golubnichiy was left to battle it out with Reimann who eventually proved just too strong for him, winning in a great 86:54.6 to the Russian’s 87:21.4. In some eleven years of international competition, this was Golubnichiy’s fastest ever 20 km!
And so we bring the Golubnichiy story up to date. Is he the greatest 20 km walker ever? Well he certainly has a unique record for he has come away from every major championship with a medal of some colour. His double Olympic victory is also unique, being separated by a period of eight years. To date only one honour has eluded this Soviet Master of Sport – the European Championship. This year the European Championships will be held in Helsinki and we will, no doubt, see this great athlete trying to add to his amazing collection of medals.
And indeed Vladimir was to add to his tally and pull off the European Championships victory in 1974
1960 Olympic 20km Rome 1st 1:34:08
1962 European Champs 20km Belgrade 3rd 1:36:38
1964 Olympic 20km Tokyo 3rd 1:32:00
1966 European Champs 20km Budapest 2nd 1:30:06
1967 Lugano Cup Bad Saarow 2nd 1:28:58
1968 Olympic 20km Mexico 1st 1:33:59
1970 Lugano Cup Eschborn 2nd 1:27:22
1972 Olympic 20km Munich 2nd 1:26:56
1974 European Champs 20km Rome 1st 1:29:30
1976 Olympic 20km Montreal 7th 1:29:25
1977 Lugano Cup Le Grand Quevilly 14th 1:30:33
I’ll close with this moving portrait of Golubnichy penned by New Zealand and UK championship winning walker, Mike Parker, which is contained in Tim Erikson’s tribute.In July 2009 Mike was lucky enough to meet with Vladimir in his home town of Sumy.
We received word from the President of the Sumy region Olympic Committee that Golubnichy was more than happy to meet me and that arrangements had been made for me to meet him in Sumy on Monday 17th. I have to say that I am still reeling from the shock of the hospitality we received in Sumy. After spending the night in a hotel in Sumy we were escorted to the meeting with Golubnichy, arguably, for those of you who don’t the greatest race walker of all time and one of the greatest ever athletes. To my shock Golubnichy and a contingent of press and television cameras were waiting for our arrival. To cut a long and eventful story short, what I thought would be a brief ten minutes with Vladimir turned out to be a fantastic full day in his company, and what a man he is. I don’t think I have ever meet somebody who has achieved so much and is so humble. We were shown the new Vladimir Golubnichiy indoor stadium built in his honour and taken to the athletic track across town where it all began for Vladimir as a fifteen year old back in 1951. I happened to mention to Vladimir that I used to have a book on him until I lent it to someone many years ago and never got it back. A minute later Vladimir disappeared, he had jumped into his car driven home to get this book for me with a personalised inscription, in addition he gave me one of his Russian track suits.
Vladimir took us to his apartment in the city where we could not but be mightily impressed by the simplicity of his style of life, a life that has remained the same since the day he took up athletics, despite numerous attractive offers. Vladimir showed us his array of trophies and medals he has won over the years. This collection is just about to go in its entirity to the Sumy museum so that the people of Sumy, a city of 350,000 can have access to their most famous inhabitant’s career rewards.
The next morning Sasha picked us up and took us out into the country to witness one of their training camps for their Biathlon team, full of Olympic hopefuls taking part. Sumy can boast over 1000 race walkers, 700 wrestlers and over 2000 Biathlon athletes. Most of this growth in sport can be put down to Vladimir Golubichiy, a legend in Sumy and Ukrainian sport.
It’s with great pleasure that we add this further article by Mike, which appeared first in the New Zealand Race Walking Newsletter.
2 JUNE 1936 – 16 AUGUST 2021.
Last week Track & Field lost one of its most esteemed champions with the passing of Vladimir Golubnichy aged 85. Ukrainian by birth Golubnichy died in Sumy the city of his birth and where he had resided his entire life.
At seventeen Golubnichy was encouraged to take up race walking when he was seen powering his way through deep snow, wearing heavy boots, as he trained for cross country skiing. It was his prodigious strength that drew the attention of one of his instructors at the Kyiv Physical Education Institute that Vladimir was attending at the time. Within two years Vladimir had set a new world record for the 20 kms and at just 19 was considered a near certainty to be chosen for the following years 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
Unfortunately, Golubnichy developed a debilitating liver infection which side-lined him for the next 18 months costing him near certain selection for Melbourne. It is believed the infection was the result of his malnourished childhood during WW11. In his absence Soviet race walkers still managed a one, two, three whitewash in the 1956 Olympic 20kms.
In 1957 he regained the world record over 20kms. The rest is history, he would dominate the 20 kms race walk for the next 14 years. At the Olympic Games, Gold in 1960, Bronze in 1964, Gold in 1968 and Silver in 1972, at age 43 in 1976 in Montreal he placed 7th. In 1974 in Rome, he took gold at the European Athletics Championships over 20kms. His sole European title followed on from a bronze medal at these championships in 1962 and a silver in 1966. In addition to these stella performances he won 6 Soviet titles over his specialty 20kms distance and was never beaten by another Soviet race walker in any of the major championships he contested. In Turku, Finland in 1991 he added an IAAF World Masters Athletics title to his list of accomplishments.
He cited his bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 as his toughest and most satisfying performance. Weakened by influenza and suffering from a bad headache during the race he had fallen over midway but managed to pick himself up and battle his way through the field to finish third.
I had the great privilege of spending 3 days with Vladimir at his home in Sumy in 2009. I was also fortunate because he usually saw visitors for brief periods. Being a fellow race walker, having a Ukranian wife who happened to share a mutual friendship with a friend of Vladimir’s all helped to turn the visit into a very memorable one. I was struck by his humility and the warmth of his hospitality. He was happy leading an amazingly simple lifestyle, no car, no telephone and living in a quite simple 1950’s style Soviet apartment. He had had many opportunities to gain coaching positions or move to Moscow in some official capacity but had rejected them all, he preferred his simple life in Sumy. I will never forget his generosity, the strength of his handshake and his disbelieve when he enquired about Peter Snell and Murray Halberg and heard that they were not occupying high up positions in sports administration in New Zealand.
He wanted us to go with him to his dacha (summer house), in the country about 25 kms outside Sumy so we could meet his wife and have dinner together. After we left Vladimir’s apartment Olga stopped to buy watermelon from a nearby stall. I noticed Vladimir had walked on up the road and was standing near a bus stop. Olga in the meantime had hailed a taxi. We had genuine difficulty in persuading Vladimir to make the journey to his dacha by cab. Upon getting in the taxi the cabbie seemed quite taken aback by his famous customer.
Race walking has lost its greatest exponent, certainly one of its most humble champions.
Awards & Honours:
Awarded the Red Banner of Labour in 1960.
The Order of the Badge of Honour in 1969.
Awarded the Medal “For Labour Valour” in 1972.
Elected to the IAAF Hall of Fame as one of the 20 inaugural inductees in 2012.
Our next club race is the Lambert Trophy One Hour event this coming Saturday, September 4 – start 1.30 p.m. More than ever it would be very useful if you could indicate your attendance and in what capacity. The track race introduces extra demands on those officiating – lap scoring, for instance. Offers of assistance will be gratefully received.
Thanks as ever to Dave Evans for the revealing report and Greg Smith for the excellent photos, of which there are many more to use in ensuing posts. Much appreciated.
The athlete whose name we see on the trophy achieved great success in the 1920’s by winning a silver medal in the 1924 Paris Olympics track walk 10000 metres. His time of 48 mins 37 would still win many events and we remember that in those days the walking style would be quite strict. No clear water under these guys.
The weather was humid with the slight threat of rain but nobody complained about the walking environment. On this occasion the club decided to use a modified version of the Dave Crompton 7 mile shaving off around 1260 metres and making the course an out and back. The field of walkers seemed to enjoy this alternative.
Although not strictly required the handicapper decided to separate the field into 4 groups each leaving the start at different times. Unwinding the times for each walker at the 1 mile point produced the following series of times:- 9 mins 51 Adrian Edwards, 10 18 Stuart Edgar , 10 21 Tony Malone, 10 48 Ian Hilditch, 11 15 Roy Gunnett, 11 16 Joe Hardy/Sailash Shah/Phil McCullagh/Pat Evans, 11 45 Steven Wilde/Dave Hoben.
From the final times it was clear that a number of our walkers had improved substantially in the last couple of months making some of the predicted times established by the handicapper looking a bit understated ! Setting the field off at intervals but in doubles or trios produced some close finishes with the first 5 appearing within 1 minute and 45 seconds. This course certainly tests a walkers ability to handle both steep uphill and sharp downhills but everyone took these in their stride.
The timekeeper (Eric Horwill)and recorder (Dave Evans)discussed the subject of who might appear first and both were wrong ! Stuart Edgar walked particularly well and recorded an excellent 63 mins 25 not too far ahead of the fast closing Adrian Edwards who managed a strong 60 mins 52. Tony Malone , who set off with Adrian at the start , walked extremely well and was only 27 seconds in arrears. Ian Hilditch continues to defy the ravages of advancing years and recorded a very gratifying 65 mins 40. The overall results were very pleasing and were recorded as follows:-
Adrian Edwards 60 mins 52
Tony Malone 61 mins 19
Stuart Edgar 63 mins 25
Ian Hilditch 65 mins 40
Phil McCullagh 67 mins 09
Pat Evans 67mins 59
Joe Hardy 68mins 07
Roy Gunnett 68 mins 38
Sailash Shah 70 mins 38
Dave Hoben 72 mins 04
Steven Wilde 72 mins 04
Roy Gunnett 53 mins 28
Dave Hoben 54 mins 34
Joe Hardy 56 mins 07
Phil McCullagh 56 mins 14
Steven Wilde 56 mins 14
Ian Hilditch 57 mins 15
Sailash Shah 57 mins 18 8 Stuart Edgar 58 mins 10
Pat Evans 58 mins 34
Tony Malone 60 mins 19
Adrian Edwards 60 mins 52
Finally a big thank you to Louise Whaite and Eric Crompton for providing the race headquarters and refreshments. Our marshalls Greg Smith and Irene Pike kept the field on the straight and narrow and all arrived back safely but tired.
At the post race briefing mention was made of the next race which is the 1 hour track walk at Bury on September 4th and comments about the need for lap scorers. Anyone wanting to support the race either as a competitor or official /helper should let Tony Taylor know as soon as they can.
To celebrate the life and contribution of Dave Crompton a brand new trophy was presented to Ian Hilditch who won Dave’s 7 miles handicap event on May 8th.
The race is to go ahead at 1.30 p.m. with our favourite St Peters club still the venue. However the club has now been emptied of furniture so bring a folding chair perhaps or you will be sitting on the stage to tie your shoelaces!
The course will be a shortened version of that used for the Dave Crompton 7 miles race.
It’s coincidental to mention that Keely Hodgkinson, who won Olympics 800 metres silver last week hails from the Leigh Harriers Athletic Club, of which Reg Goodwin, Olympic silver medallist in the 1924 10,000 metres walk, was a leading member. Whilst Holly Bradshaw. bronze medallist in the pole vault, is a Chorley lass. Back in the day Joan Wallwork’s mum and Auntie Dora were famous for shouting their support for our efforts on the road with the call, ‘Up the North’. In this context their exclamation rings down the years. Well done Keely and Holly!
It continues to helpful to let us know in advance of your attendance and in what capacity.
NATIONAL SENIOR INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENTS [qualification placing in top six]
BARRACLOUGH Joe, centurion 260 – AAA champs 2 top 6 performances; RWA 20 miles 3rd/1958 plus 2 top 6 performances
BRIDGE Bobby – Olympic Games 1912; AAA champs 2 miles 1st/1912/1913/1914/1919; AAA champs 7 miles 1st/1912/1913/1914; National 2 hours record, 24,598 metres
CROMPTON David – RWA 50 Kilometres 3rd/2014
DICKINSON Leslie – AAA champs 7 miles 3rd/1935 pus 3 top 6 performances
DUMBILL Thomas – Olympic Games 1912; AAA champs 3rd/1912
DUNN Tommy – RWA Junior 10 miles 1st/1938 *
EDWARDS Adrian – RWA 50 kilometres 1st/2015 plus 2 top 3 performances
FAIRHURST Hazel, centurion 983 – RWA 100 miles 3rd/2003 plus 1 top 6 performance
HARDY Joe, centurion 981 – RWA 100 miles 5th/2002
HARVEY Chris – 7 GB Internationals; RWA 10 miles 1st/1979 plus 2 other RWA top 6 performances
HOPKINS Joe – Olympic Games 1936; RWA 20 miles 1st/1938; RWA 50 kilometres 2nd/1936, 5th/1938
SHORT Alf, centurion 993 – RWA 50 kilometres 4th/2004; RWA 100 miles 2nd/2008
TAYLOR Tony – 2 GB Internationals; AAA 10 kilometres 3rd/1970 plus 2 top 6 performances; RWA 10 miles 6th/1970
WALLWORK Ron, centurion 893 – Commonwealth Games 1966; European Games 1966. Commonwealth v USA Commonwealth Games 1970; European Games1971; Commonwealth v USA plus 10 internationals; AAA 2 miles champs 1st/1966/1967 plus 2 top 6 performances; AAA 7 miles champs 2nd/1965/1966 plus 3top 6 performances; RWA 10 miles 1st/1967 plus 7 top 6 performances; RWA 20 kilometres 1st/1967 plus 4 top 6 performances; RWA 20 miles 2nd/1970/1971 plus 5 top 6 performances; RWA 50 kilometres 3rd 1971 plus 2 top 6 performances; National 2 hours record, 26,037 metres.
*The National Junior 10 miles was a Senior event open to those, who had not won either national individual or team medals. It had its equivalent at a regional level. Something of an anomaly it was dropped from the calendar in the 1960s.
Thanks to Ron for putting together this revealing insight into the club’s history. We should follow it, as far as we can, given what we can discover, by a roll of team achievements.
We are so grateful to Charlotte Pearce for this lovely set of images from the Fred Pearce Relay. I’ve resisted creating a competition for the most amusing caption to accompany any of the photos, although a few spring to mind!
I’ll leave you with Adrian and Martin’s balancing act, thanking Charlotte afresh for te atmospheric images.