Leigh Thompson

Leigh Thompson

We followed NZ coach Arthur Lydiard’s training methods of 100 mile a week with hills.  At the Rome Olympics he had two gold medallists and a bronze medallist all from the same club.

Peter Snell 800m, Murray Halberg 5000m and Barry Magee Marathon

Traralgon Harriers and later Traralgon Achilles were formed so that along with the original Traralgon Amateur Athletic Club Traralgon would have its own centre and not have to travel to Warragul, Yallourn, Moe, Morwell and Sale with more athletes the all the towns combined.  Martin and I once had to hitch hike to an athletic meeting whilst our mum and dad each drove a car full of athletes.  Martin and Barry were President and Secretary of Traralgon Harriers.  Around 1970 Barry was suspended from the Victorian Amateur Athletic Association ostensibly because he had not sent them an annual President’s Report.  When he asked how many other clubs had not done so it turned out that the majority had not.  Barry continued to do his work in supporting the club with someone else in his role.  Martin was replaced by me as Secretary when he and Linda headed overseas at the start of 1975.  I became the first Traralgon Harrier to run and complete a marathon.

 

Victorian Marathon Club Tyabb 27 July 1968

Martin did not run as he had a stress fracture and Garry Henry was car sick.  Martin, Richard Jeffery and I ran the VMC 20 mile King of the Mountains on 29 June 1968.  As we arrived late we are not mentioned in the results.  I was so tired from this run that I did no running until the VMC marathon a month later.  I completed the first mile in 6 min. 45 sec. and was in last place.  After 7 miles I began walking.  The course was a T shape and headed out almost to the South Gippsland Highway.  All the remaining runners passed me miles before I reached the turn.  When I finished the Tyabb Hall was closed, it was getting dark and nearly everyone had headed home.  Geoff Watt remained and said, “It’s a quarter past five and the race started at one o’clock so you took 4 hours 15 minutes, Leigh.”  I do not appear in the VMC results and I guess they assumed I’d dropped out.  Martin is incorrectly listed as dropping out.

 

Thompson Family

The family moved to Traralgon in late 1950 and Barry worked as a foreman on the construction of the Lurgi Briquette Gas Plant where his proficiency with languages soon became apparent and he was used as a translator for German Engineers and workers.  There he learned Dutch and Italian from migrant workers.  Barry and Daphne both played table tennis at Traralgon.  Barry made tables (using tongue in groove flooring) and forms (bench seats) for Traralgon Table Tennis Association (TTA).  His name is on TTA honour board as President/Secretary and Daphne’s name is there as a life member.  They both raced (sprints, three legged, sack, wheelbarrow) at annual Methodist Church picnics at Kornalla and Barry took the long hike up the hills.

Martin excelled in most sports (tennis, football, table tennis, swimming, athletics, roller skating).  In 1964 he decided he would win the Traralgon High School annual cross country race.  I accompanied him by bike as he trained.  He won the race by such a large margin along with the second and third place getter that all three were able to get changed and observe the headmaster congratulate the fourth place getter mistakenly thinking he was the winner.  The headmaster, H.E.L. Jones commented to the three place getters back in school uniform, “It’s a pity you boys did not compete as well.”  He only learned of his error when he read the results in the Traralgon Journal later.  Martin and his mates did high pole vaulting, jump, long and triple jump on the spare block next door to our home at 6a Rose Avenue.  He starred in the school and interschool athletic sports in his later years at school.

Martin and his younger sister Dale began competing in the Latrobe Valley Amateur Athletics centre weekly competitions over summer. Dale was a fast sprinter. Due to their interest Barry and Daphne re invigorated the Traralgon Amateur Athletic Club (TAAC) and the Traralgon Women’s Amateur Athletic Club (TWAAC) around 1965. Soon more athletes from Traralgon were competing than all the other Gippsland Clubs combined.  One Saturday Martin and I had to hitch hike to the Latrobe Valley athletic meeting while Barry and Daphne each drove a car full of young athletes.  One parent complained when Daphne returned her daughter back home a quarter of an hour later than expected.  Travelling every Saturday to one of Morwell, Yallourn, Moe, Warragul and Sale was becoming exhausting while the athletic meetings in Traralgon were much easier even though we had to measure, mark (and sometimes mow) out ovals, long and triple jump pits, discus and shot put circles

Leigh Thompson

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