Prepared by the late John Clark
Three Mile Walk Declared a ‘No Race’ By Officials
Walkers have much to contend with in their races but here is an example from the 1926-7 National Championships that shows what can happen.
Firstly, in the one mile walk, Cabot of Otago won with Lanky of Wellington in second place.
For much of their race in the longer event, a close finish was likely. In the sprint home Lanky passed Cabot only to be disqualified for ‘lifting’. Cabot, in the meantime, had pulled up and left the track, presumably wishing to be recorded as a non finisher rather than take second place, but he changed his mind and rejoined the race.
With Lanky disqualified and Cabot having left the track, the only course of action officials could take under the circumstances was to declare the race a ‘no race’ and leave the title, won in 1925-6 by Cabot, vacant.
Excitement at 1926-7 Nationals
The walkers may have left a legacy of an unusual result but there were two more disqualifications that will interest readers.
Rules have changed somewhat over the years and hurdlers would be grateful for some of the changes. Take the example at the 1926-7 Nationals and look, also, at the commentaries of various hurdles events at the Olympic Games during the 1920’s and 1930’s.
At the above Nationals, Wanganui – Taranaki hurdler G Broad was disqualified for knocking three hurdles in the 120 yards hurdles final. He forfeited his second place with high jumper John Shirley being promoted to second.
At the same meeting an interesting disqualification took place in the one mile final when Clarrie Gibbons, better known for winning the inaugural New Zealand marathon championship a decade later, was making his sprint home against Bill Savidan when he jostled Savidan, causing him to stumble.
Gibbons went on to win the race but was promptly disqualified by the referee. The jostling was seen as unintentional but an obvious act.
Savidan did not protest and said he would accept his loss.
The result shows that Savidan won from Priestley, Savidan equalling the championships best time set in 1911 by Neville Hill with his 4min 25.8sec.
Using One’s Own Shot
It is common for athletes to supply their own shot, discus, javelin and hammer for National Championships these days. They are weighed and measured before competition to ensure they meet all size and weight requirements within the rules applicable and then placed in the equipment pool for all athletes to use, should they wish.
Things were not always this way.
Way back at the 1900-1 Nationals in Christchurch, held on 22 December 1900, W Angland, the winner of that season’s national hammer title, was one of three contestants in the shot.
He brought with him a special lead weight, described as being of peculiar shape and much easier to grip, and proceeded to use it in competition. The officials saw red and tested the weight to find it weighed in light. Angland then had to use the conventional round and very smooth lead shot, a shot all competitors found too smooth and slippery.
Angland ended up in second place behind fellow Cantabrian, W Bradley.
Unique Three Way Tie for High Jump Win
How things have changed. These days the rules in high jump and pole vault require that any time two or more athletes are tied for first after regulation competition, a jump off must be held to determine one winner. Occasionally the weather interferes and a tie is declared.
The most enduring memory of the jump off scenario being played out was the magnificent Tania Murray – Janet Boyle jump off at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland.
How, indeed, things have changed.
At the 1900-1Nationals the high jump was described as being remarkable as there were just three competitors and they all tied for first. The fact they tied for first is interesting but how they tied is more remarkable.
The three, Prebble, Harper and Roseingrave, all cleared 5’ 6 ¾” but missed their three attempts at 5’ 7 ¾”. At that point the officials came together to discuss what to do next.
The jumpers were each given three more attempts at the missed height but Prebble, believing he had reached his limit, declined the attempts while Harper and Roseingrave were confident they could improve further.
Both missed their three extra attempts and the officials decided a tie was most appropriate as the jumpers were tired and unlikely to clear the height.
Roseingrave, an Irishman competing for New South Wales, later came to live in New Zealand.