Athletics Australia’s Annual General Meeting in Melbourne today elected six new Life Members, recognising distinguished service to the sport by a diverse group of contributors in administration, coaching and officiating and as athletes.
Graham Dwight (NSW) became interested in athletics when his children began competing at the Hornsby Little Athletics Centre in 1974. He first helped because he felt he was obliged but soon realised that he liked it. He quickly became an official in those events that interested him most - the field events.
As his children got older they all joined the Cumberland/Ryde-Hornsby (now Epping) Athletics Club. His interest increased as his sons began winning state and national titles before both earned selection for the World Junior Championships. When the boys retired, their father stayed on – much to the great benefit of New South Wales, Australian and Oceania athletics.
Graham became an official with NSWAAA in the 1970s and also played a key role in the re-establishment of the NSW Throwers’ Club. Graham has served in administrative roles in both Little Athletics and with NSWAAA – including with the latter as Director – Technical and as a member of the officials advisory panel.
His commitment to ongoing learning for himself and others, combined with Graham’s high level of skills and dedication led to appointments to many international athletics championships, including the 1996 World Junior Championships in Sydney (as assistant throws referee), the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sydney in 2000 (as a throws referee), the 2001 Goodwill Games (as a throws chief judge), the 2006 Commonwealth Games in 2006 (as combined events referee) and the Gold Coast in 2018 (as an EDM judge).
Graham became interested in the provision of good throwing surfaces and in particular all aspects of safety surrounding throwing events. After a number of serious incidents and close-calls, AA decided to conduct a national audit of hammer cages. Graham was asked to take the lead role in the project, pursuing it with much diligence and empathy – doing his best to offer sound solutions.
His knowledge and its application meant a long term membership of AA’s Facilities and Equipment Commission and appointments by both AA and the IAAF as a technical delegate for national and international meets, including the IAAF World Challenge in Melbourne.
As AA and it member associations began to fully integrate para-athletics into its programs from the 1990s, Graham was one of the first to embrace the opportunities, with particular interest in the seated throwing events.
Graham was instrumental in ANSW acquiring its first EDM for improving the accuracy and speed of measurement of all throwing events and his persistence quickly ensured that the use of electronic distance measuring became a standard part of officiating nationwide.
Graham obtained the IAAF Level II Diploma in officiating and was appointed as an International Technical Official for Oceania. He is one of Oceania and Australia’s most knowledgeable and efficient officials and his ready smile and constant attention to detail is to be admired, always willing to help other officials.
Graham has been recognised for his contribution to the sport as a Merit Award holder of ANSW of which he became a Life Member in 2014. He received the AA Gold Award for 30 years service as an official and administrator in 2013.
David Grace QC (Victoria) was an enthusiastic athlete who enjoyed participating in his sport. It was an enthusiasm so instilled in him that he has continued to find ways for more than fifty years to contribute to a sport that gave him personally so much joy.
David competed for the Hakoah-Ajax (now Ajax-Maccabi) AC in Victorian interclub for 30 successive seasons from 1967. Specialising in sprints and jumps but also competing in hurdles and throws, he proudly took part in many finals competitions which culminated in several grade premierships.
At Monash University he competed successfully and often at the Australian Intervarsity Championships and was selected in the 1980 Australian Universities Team to tour New Zealand. He later took up competing in masters both at Victorian, national and international level.
David was a club coach at Ajax-Maccabi from 1980 to 1993 but it is perhaps without question that David’s contribution to athletics has been greatest in the area of administration.
This began with myriad roles within his club as team captain, treasurer, secretary and president. He was elected a life member of the club in 1985. He took on roles within Victoria Maccabi and Maccabi Australia as selector, executive member, vice-president and president. He was vice-president of the Maccabi World Union from 1994 to 2000.
At state level David was club delegate to VAAA and was a team liaison officer for the 1977 Pacific Conference Games satellite meets.
David’s involvement with athletics at national level began in the 1990s – organising several tours to Australia by a then very talented Israeli athletics team.
At the same time he began his relationship with the AOC, drafting selection policies across the Olympic sports for the 2000 Sydney Games. He was an Athletes Advocate the Australian Olympic Team in Sydney and Athens.
David was in 2000 appointed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and was a member of the Court’s ad hoc on site tribunals at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
David was chair and a member of the Athletics Australia Tribunal from 2001 until 2006 when elected to the AA Board in 2006. He was appointed vice-president in 2010.
David became AA President in 2013 serving until 2015 when the new ASC governance principles’ maximum term limits came into force. Throughout his time on the Board, David’s input and leadership was multi-faceted both through his knowledge of the sport and his professional expertise as a lawyer. His primary focus was always the athlete. He was fearless in raising uncomfortable issues with the IAAF, especially the re-awarding of medals to athletes deprived of them by drug cheats. On expiration of his term David resumed his role with AA’s tribunals.
David served as an Australian delegate to the IAAF Congress and more recently in later 2017 has been appointed by the IAAF to its Disciplinary Tribunal.
Charlene Rendina’s (Victoria) passion for her sport of athletics is no different now to when as Charlene Neighbour she ran her first steps as an athlete in the 1960s.
She became a multiple Victorian championship medallist and state titleholder over more than a decade, competing for Preston Reservoir for her entire career.
In national competition Charlene has an outstanding record at a time when Australia’s stock in her two most favoured events – the 400 and 800 metres were high. She was national champion on seven occasions – twice over the quarter mile and five times at 800 metres. There were also two silvers and a bronze in the 400.
Charlene’s first major international opportunity was an Olympics Games – in Munich in 1972. She delivered one of the surprise results of the team – finishing sixth in the 400 metres final and was also part of the team which finished sixth in the 4x400m relay final.
The Pacific Conference Games were inaugurated in 1973, Charlene winning silver in both the 400 and 800 metres. A year later she delivered excellent results at the Christchurch Commonwealth Games, winning a complete set of medals.
By now Charlene’s transition to 800 metres was complete but she was still able to take bronze in the individual 400 metres. She continued to be part of Australia’s strong 4x400m team which won silver but it was in the 800 metres where she was outstanding taking the gold in a world class time.
There were three more majors – the 1976 Olympics, the 1978 Commonwealth Games before the curtain came down on her career in the 1979 World Cup.
Perhaps most enduring have been Charlene’s personal bests – for 400m (51.90 from the Munich semi final) and most notably her 1.59.0 for 800 metres in late February 1976 which 42 years later remains the national record.
Charlene returned to athletics for enjoyment after raising her children – becoming one of the first women to compete in Victorian Athletic League competitions. But that did not represent the entirety of her renewed interest in the sport. When Athletics Australia’s kindred body representing past international representatives and national champions, Athletics International was re-started in 1996, Charlene put up her hand to be a committee member and has remained so.
She has been AI’s treasurer since 1998 and has been heavily involved in some of its bigger events that have enabled the organisation to engage with past champions and raise considerable funds to assist the current generations. She has also been a member of the Grants Committee since 2016.
When in 2007 AA set up a mentoring program for emerging talent, Charlene became a core and active member of the initial group of mentors and served in that role for the National Under 19 Talent Squad from 2007 to 2014. Her mentoring roles have continued in a less formal manner – but Charlene is always available to chat with those who seek her guidance.
Charlene has also been active in coaching and undertakes projects within the Olympic movement. She takes her position as a past champion and role model very seriously.
Peter Reynolds (NSW) first became involved in athletics officiating when his daughter enrolled in The Hills District Little Athletics Centre in 1977 in turn moving on to zone, region and eventually state level. As with so many others as his daughter progressed to senior athletics, so did Peter.
But unlike too many others, Peter made the decision to continue in the sport – in the 40 years since providing leadership and guidance to many others. Peter has remained a member of Hills District Athletics Club throughout.
He first officiated for Athletics New South Wales in 1988 in horizontal jumps and soon officiated at national competitions. He quickly became a highly effective official and his firm but friendly approach saw him quickly appointed to chief judge and referee level.
In 1996 Peter was a jumps judge at the Sydney World Junior Championships, followed by a chief’s role at the Olympics four years later. Then recognising his continuing development, Peter was appointed as a referee for 2001 Goodwill Games in Brisbane.
In 2002 Peter obtained the IAAF Level II Diploma in Officiating and was subsequently appointed as an International Technical Official (Oceania). He is today an ITO (Oceania) Emeritus
His experience and approach saw him appointed as the call room referee at the 2006 Commonwealth Games when this role was still emerging at international level. In 2009 he was appointed by the IAAF as the Technical Delegate at the IAAF World Tour meet in Melbourne.
In 2018 Peter was a field judge at the Commonwealth Games, meaning that he had then officiated at international events for 22 years.
When Peter was asked to move outside his traditional comfort zone to become a national technical delegate not only for track and field meets but perhaps even more so for out of stadium competition, he moved seamlessly into the role delivering a series of reports which have greatly benefited future meets under AA’s jurisdiction.
But Peter’s contribution to athletics goes well beyond his own officiating.
He has been a member of the ANSW Official Advisory Panel since it was formed in 2002 and chair from 2005. Peter’s chairmanship has seen many important innovations including the development of training and mentoring programs for officials in NSW and beyond.
Peter’s calm and professional approach as competition director ensures those around him perform to the highest standard – he encourages and inspires others. He allows chiefs and referees to do their jobs, but his broad overview sees potential problems before they actually happen.
There is absolutely no doubt Peter Reynold’s contribution to athletics in Australia has gone significantly beyond “just being an official”. His approach is to lead others to ensure the rules of the sport are fairly enforced, but always in the interests of the athletes. Peter’s mantra is “Athletes first, common sense second and the rules third”.
Gerard Ryan (ACT) first registered as a little athlete in 1968 before four years later joining his first senior club in Victoria. It was the beginning of a 50 year involvement with the sport which continues.
He enjoyed success winning multiple Victorian State Championships in track and cross country from 1974 to 1984 and won Australian All Schools 1500 metres titles in 1975 and 1977. He was the bronze medallist in the national junior 1500m championship in 1980, whilst at senior level won bronze in the 1980 Nationals over 5000m and a silver in the mile two years later.
He moved to Canberra in 1985 to take up a track scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport which he held for three years. Gerard won many ACT State Championships in both track and cross country from 1985 to 1995 and set an ACT track record of 7.57.3 for 3000m in 1985 which remains his personal best.
Gerard was a great supporter of state teams and represented Victoria and ACT in multiple Australian track, road and cross-country championships for over 20 years. He was a multiple team medallist at road and cross-country championships and earned national selection on four occasions – in matches against Italy and New Zealand followed by the World University Games (1987) and in the World Mountain Running Championships (1992).
But Gerard’s passion for his sport and finding myriad ways to support it was only just beginning - both attached to his profession as a teacher and in mainstream athletics. In school sport, Gerard has been a team selector, team official and state coach for the ACT School Cross Country team since 1999. School Sport Australia has bestowed him with its National Service Award.
Gerard has been active as a personal coach since 1996 with athletes in his group winning national medals at open level and championships in younger age groups and have earned national representation in both.
When it came to major events held in Australia, Gerard has been a keen volunteer, willing to take on key roles in leading groups of others to get important jobs done. In this regard he was a squad leader for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Hurdles Crew Supervisor for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and Warmup Track Manager for the Gold Coast Games in 2018.
Gerard was a National Selector from 2005 to 2008.
His organisational expertise has often been called upon when national events have been staged in Canberra. Gerard’s work in this regard has been consistent over many years and of the highest quality.
In team roles, Gerard has served as manager for ACT Junior Track teams as well as Open, Junior and Schools Cross Country teams to many National Championships.
In officiating and administration, Gerard is an Athletics Australia Level B Track Official, has served as a Board Member for Athletics ACT and has been its Competition Manager since 2004. He is a Life Member of Athletics ACT and is a recipient of the AA Platinum Service Award for more than 40 years voluntary contribution to the sport.
The golden strains of his voice have been heard at Australian athletics events for nearly five decades but as dedicated and consistent as his voluntary work as an announcer has been, it is but a part of his exceptional service to and involvement in athletics over more than 70 years by Ted Simmons OAM (NSW).
Ted joined the Eastern Suburbs club in Sydney in 1947, competing in New South Wales inter-district and state championships competition, most proficiently in jumping events until 1960 when he first became an official.
Within a year he got his first appointment with the then Amateur Athletic Union of Australia as an announcer for an international meet at ES Marks Field. Ted’s profession as a journalist and radio announcer proved to be of huge benefit to athletics both at state and national level. His knowledge of the sport and excellent delivery style soon ensured that he was a number one choice as an announcer at local, national and international events in Australia.
Both in his work for the Daily Mirror, Radio 2SM and most notably with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and in a voluntary capacity, Ted was most adept and prolific in composing and publishing media releases and articles. He was particularly keen to source and research articles on athletics when he noted that there was a shortage of stories on other sports. This regularly gave coverage to athletics’ stories that might not otherwise have got a run.
He is equally recognised for his presence as an announcer at countless interclub meets as he has been at so many major international events in Australia – Pacific Conference Games (Canberra 1977), Commonwealth Games (Brisbane 1982), IAAF World Cup (Canberra 1985), World Under 20 Championships (Sydney 1996) and the World Masters Games (Sydney 2009).
In 2000 he was one of Athletics Australia’s nominees for the Australian Sports Medal which acknowledged his outstanding service as a competition official, especially as an announcer and as an athletics writer. Ted was elected as a life member of Athletics NSW in 2003, a year later was nominated for Australian of the Years and in 2005 received the Athletics Australia Platinum Service Award for 40 years service.
In 2006 Ted was further recognised by the Australian Honours System with the Medal of the Order of Australia – which acknowledged not only his service to athletics and journalism but also to soccer as a referee and historian and as an administrator in ten pin bowling.