Times past, I was quite heavily involved with my local athletics club, Jersey Spartan AC. Shortly after I became Secretary in about 1999, one of the things I pushed for at committee was an upgrade to the club’s annual ‘bash’. So we decided on an Annual Dinner Dance, the sort of affair that even then was going out of fashion.
But they were great, and continued for a dozen or so years. The club members, their partners and families enjoyed the opportunity to dress up. Some were unrecognisable from the sweaty articles in scanty clothing that we were accustomed to seeing.
One of the keys to the successes of those evenings were the invited Guest Speakers. I have to say that I had a hand in securing most of these guests. And each and every one had represented Great Britain (or Ireland in one instance) in at least one Olympic Games, including two gold medalists. Here, for the record, is the list in approximate order in which they came to Jersey, with their Olympic credentials.
- Myrtle Augee – Seoul 1988 shot putt 17th, Barcelona 1992 shot putt 14th.
- Sonia O’Sullivan – Barcelona 1992 3000m 4th, Atlanta 1996 5000m DNF & 1500m heats, Sydney 2000 5000m 2nd & 10000m 6th.
- Mary Peters – Tokyo 1964 pentathlon 4th, Mexico 1968 pentathlon 9th, Munich 1972 1st.
- David Hemery – Mexico 1968 400m hurdles 1st, Munich 1972 400m hurdles 3rd & 4 x 400m relay 2nd.
- Bruce Tulloh (RIP) – Rome 1960 1500m heats.
- David Moorcroft – Montreal 1976 1500m 7th, Moscow 1980 5000m semi-finals, Los Angels 1984 5000m 14th.
- Christina Boxer – Moscow 1980 800m semi-final, Los Angeles 1984 1500m 6th, Seoul 1988 1500m 4th.
- Dalton Grant – 1988 Seoul high jump 7th, 1992 Barcelona high jump 29th, Atlanta 1996 high jump 19th.
- Chris Tomlinson – Athens 2004 long jump 5th, Beijing 2008 long jump 27th, London 2012 long jump 6th.
- Katharine Merry – Atlanta 1996 200m 19th, Sydney 2000 400m 3rd.
- Colin Campbell (Jersey’s own) – Mexico 1968 400m heats, 1972 Munich 800m heats.
In most cases these great athletes travelled to Jersey for expenses only. On a number of occasions I was honoured to meet and talk with them over dinner the night before the function. Each brought their own individual charm to the proceedings and we, as a club, were unfailingly impressed with their willingness to reach out and give up their time for the furtherance of athletics.
Happy days indeed, but I think the days of the Dinner Dance are now over.