With the 2006 Commonwealth Games due to start shortly in Melbourne we were asked whether any Walton athletes had been to the Commonwealth Games.
The answer is a resounding yes. A total of six Walton athletes have represented their country at the Commonwealths. This may not seem many but they have brought back an amazing total of three titles, five other medals and another four top six places.
The first to appear at the Games was, appropriately enough, Walton’s first ever international. Sprinter Les Lewis was selected for the 1950 Games in Auckland, New Zealand. Les was a 440 yards specialist who also ran the shorter sprints and was selected for all three and for both relays. Les made it to the semifinal of the 100 yards and came 4th in 10.0 just missing out on the final. He was unfortunately disqualified in the heats of the 220 yards but in his main event he comfortably qualified for the final and then ran 48.0 to claim the silver medal only a tenth of a second behind the winner.
Les then helped the England team to silver medals in both relays, 42.5s for the 4 x 110 yards and 3.19.3 for 4 x 440 yards behind the australians in both cases. Les presumably enjoyed his time in Auckland because he later emigrated to New Zealand.
The 1954 Games were in Vancouver in Canada and three Walton members were selected by England. They all came back with medals and picked up three titles between them.
Chris Chataway, probably Walton’s best known old boy, won the 3 miles in 13.35.2.
Ken Wilmshurst was a double gold medal winner in the long jump (7.54) and triple jump (15.28). Ken also reached the final of the 440 yard hurdles, finishing 6th in 56.3 having run 55.4 to qualify.
Walton’s third representative was thrower Mark Pharoah. Mark picked up the bronze medal in his main event, the discus, with 47.84. He also finished 6th in the shot (14.27) and 10th in the hammer (44.82).
The 1958 Games were in Cardiff. Ken Wilmshurst again competed in the long and triple jumps. He long jumped 7.07 for 11th place, having jumped 7.28 in qualifying. In the triple jump he improved on his Vancouver performance with 15.40 but the event had moved on and this was only good enough for 5th place.
Walton had another athlete at Cardiff, Marion Needham. Marion was our first female international and is still the club long jump record holder with 5.87. At Cardiff she jumped 5.69 for 5th place.
There followed a long break before the next (and the most recent) Walton athlete to appear, Paul Edwards was selected for Wales in the 1990 Games in Auckland and threw 18.17 for a bronze medal in the shot.
That last appearance was 16 years ago, lets hope it won’t be as long before we see another Walton member competing at the Commonwealth Games, perhaps it’ll be you!