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Betty Moore set a World Record 47 years ago

Author: Athletics NSW Administrator/Monday, 24 August 2009/Categories: News

Forty-seven years ago today, Athletics NSW director and Ryde Athletics Club member Betty Moore broke the world record for the women’s 80m hurdles at an international meeting in Kassel, Germany.

The official result was:

25 August 1962

Women’s 80m hurdles, (wind +1.2) 1. Betty Moore GBR 10.5, 2. Erika Fisch GER 10.7, 3. Teresa Ciepla POL 10.9, 4. Inge Schell GER 11.0, 5. Lea Hinten HOL 11.2, 6. Ingrid Schlundt GER 11.4

Here is her story in her own words.





I began competing in athletics at Sydney University in 1954 and after training fairly casually for a few years, the highlight of my career was to equal the NSW record for 80 metres hurdles and come 3rd in the National Championships.  I then married and went to live in England.  After a few months, I began training with a local group, who trained so fiercely I thought I would die!  But I improved so much that by 1960 I was selected to represent Britain in the Olympic Games in the hurdles and the relay.  One month before the Games, I received a letter from Sir Harold Abrahams, the president of the British Amateur Athletics Board, telling me that I was not eligible to compete, as I had lived in Britain only 22 and not 24 months.




I continued to compete for Britain in the coming seasons, taking my best time for the hurdles from 11.1 in 1958 (the NSW record) to 10.7 and my 100 metres time from 12.5 to 11.5 (the European record).  In 1961 and 1962 I broke the British hurdles record 9 times and competed in numerous events all over Europe, remaining unbeaten and retaining my World No. 1 ranking.  I was looking forward to competing in the 1962 European Championships.  These championships were ranked as the No. 2 competition behind the Olympics, as there were no World Championships in that era.  I was hoping to win the first-ever hurdles gold medal for Britain.


How hard did I train to achieve this?  -------very hard!  I worked each day in a research laboratory from 9 till 5, then ate two MARS bars and went to train from 5:30 to 8:30, whether it was sunny, foggy, raining or snowing!  On Saturday I did two sessions, because I did not train on Sunday.  I was fortunate to have the British high hurdles champion to train beside me, the down side of that being I needed to be very fast to the first hurdle to get ahead of him, before he swung his trailing arm sideways and hit me in the head.  As he was 1.95m and weighed 110 kilos, it was a big incentive to reach the hurdle ahead of him.


From May through to July 1962,   I travelled all over Europe, beating every hurdler along the way, so life looked pretty good.  Then I received a letter from Sir Harold Abrahams, telling me I was not eligible to compete in the European Championships, as I was not born in Europe.




So I quit athletics forever.


Three weeks later, I was persuaded, against my better judgement, to accompany Dorothy Hyman, the British sprinter who won double gold medals in the sprints at the European and Commonwealth Games, to go to Germany with her to compete in one last race before the Championships.  She wanted me to go with her, as I spoke German and she hated going alone.  I had no intention of competing.  Everything went wrong on the way, the plane was late, the train was late and we woke the next morning to rain.  I went to the organiser and said I wasn’t going to run.  Unfortunately, he reminded me that 50,000 people had turned up to watch Dorothy and ME run, and he had paid quite a lot of money to get us there etc., etc., etc.


So, muttering under my breath, I went to warm up.  All the competitors in the race would be running in the European Championships in two weeks time, so I was determined to win --------mostly for my own ego.  I remember nothing of the race, except the gun going and then racing through the finish line to the noise of the crowd, so I knew I had run well.  The race results were announced. 


80 Metres Hurdles   First - Betty Moore   Great Britain    Time: 10.5 secs.


And 50,000 people stood up and cheered.  The Germans are fanatical about track and field and they knew it was a world record.  They poured onto the track, clapping me on the back and shaking my hand and the police were finally called after 20 minutes to get them off the track so that the events could continue.  I kept shouting at the police to keep the crowd from stepping on my gear, especially on my track shoes – a beautiful pair of hand-made red and white kangaroo skin shoes all the way from Sydney.  I never confessed to Adidas who gave me lots of gear, that I only ever competed in my Australian shoes.  I am sure they helped me run faster because they were red and white.


So you see, all you need to do to run a world record is to get very, very, very, very cross with officials who make rules, quit athletics for three weeks, do a young friend a good turn and be very, very, very, very determined to win every race in which you compete.


Easy really!!!


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