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Gary Honey

GARY HONEY (26 Jul 1959 - )Gary Honey

After seeing future Olympian Ian Campbell dominating school meets, Gary Honey’s father Ron approached Ian’s coach Dr. John Boas and asked where they trained. Ron duly delivered the young Gary to the next session. John remembers a skinny young teenager who wanted to be a triple jumper and wondered what he could do with him. However after watching Gary jump a few times he was confident there was something there.

Gary was originally with the Keon Park Athletic Club in Melbourne but transferred to Ivanhoe Harriers, which was an A Grade club. He quickly settled into the training group and in 1977 he became the national junior triple jump champion with a jump of 14.54 metres.  At the same time Gary was also long jumping and a year later finished second in the national junior long jump with 7.49m whilst defending his triple jump at 15.24m.

John suggested to Gary that he concentrate on the long jump and rapid improvement followed. In 1979 he won the senior national title with 7.86m. He was selected for the Oceania team for the IAAF World Cup in Montreal, Canada at which he finished fifth with 7.72m behind winner Larry Myricks (USA).

Gary missed the 1980 Nationals but was still selected, based on his season’s performances, in that year’s Olympic Team. In Moscow he had run up problems in the qualifying round and only managed to get one jump of 7.44m to count which was not far enough to make the final.

Gary bounced back after the disappointment of Moscow and won the 1981 Nationals with 8.01m, which earned him another World Cup selection - this time in Rome, Italy. There Gary came up against one of the greatest ever long jumpers in Carl Lewis. Lewis did not have it all his own way but found 8.15m enough to hold off Gary’s 8.11m which delivered the Australian his first international medal – a silver.

In 1982 Gary won the national title again with 7.99m and would go on to win the next seven to make it a total of ten national titles overall.

That year also brought the Brisbane Commonwealth Games. Gary was in great form and had the event won on his first jump of 7.84m. Nonetheless he went onto jump 8.13m to easily defeat Steve Hanna from the Bahamas. Commonwealth champion was a title that sat well with Gary but he wanted more.

In 1983 the IAAF introduced the World Athletics Championships which were inaugurated in Helsinki, Finland. Gary jumped 8.12m in the qualifying round to make the final where he again confronted a now close to invincible Lewis. The US star jumped 8.55m on his first jump to win comfortably. Gary leapt 8.06m to finish a fine sixth.

Gary demonstrated his versatility as an athlete in Helsinki - also running the opening leg of the 4x400m relay heats. However Australia did not progress.

Gary was indeed a quick sprinter with a hand timed best of 10.4 in 1985 but what surprised many people was that he could run a very good 400 metres. Although he did not like the event, he achieved a personal best of 46.9.

Gary won the 1984 Nationals long jump with an impressive 8.15m and was in outstanding shape heading towards the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. At the Games, he qualified for the final with 7.93m. In the following day’s final Lewis was omnipresent and opened with a cool 8.54m which would eventually be the winning jump.

Gary began with a safe 7.97m and was in fourth. In round 3 he improved to 8.18m to move into second. But in the final round the Italian Giovanni Evangelisti registered 8.24m to nudge ahead. Gary thus had to produce something on his last jump and did - but it was also 8.24m the same as Evangelisti’s best. The officials correctly assessed that Gary had the next best jump at 8.18m - securing him the silver medal on countback.

After the Games, Gary toured Europe and in Budapest, Hungary he set a life time legal best and national record of 8.27m to beat some of the best East European jumpers who had been forced to boycott the LA Games. By the end of 1984 Gary was clearly the world’s number two behind Lewis.

Gary’s next international representation was at home again with the IAAF World Cup in Canberra. 7.98m saw him finish fourth behind winner Mike Conley (USA) at 8.20m.

Gary competed in the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh which was seriously affected by a boycott of many countries. Gary retained his long jump title with a second round jump of 8.08m and then he competed in the triple jump which he had not done for 10 years to help team mate Peter Beames. He managed a personal best of 16.16m to finish just outside the medals. He also ran a leg in the 4x100 metres relay but the Aussies were unfortunately disqualified.

Gary continued his dominance of the domestic scene and won the 1987 and 1988 Nationals with huge windy marks of 8.22m and 8.30m. He had high hopes for success at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 but sadly tore a quad muscle in training just before the Games and was forced to withdraw.

He won the 1989 Nationals with another big jump of 8.11m, but injuries began to take their toll. Gary was selected for his third Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand. He made it through the qualifying round with 7.69m but could only manage 7.54m in the final to finish tenth.

Those Games effectively brought down the curtain on Gary’s outstanding career highlighted by Olympic silver, two Commonwealth golds, ten senior national and 12 state titles and a long stint as national record holder.

Gary also dabbled in “pro” running – controversially winning the 90m maiden handicap at the famous New Year’s Day meeting at Burnie in Tasmania. He tried a brief comeback in 1994 but alas it lasted just one competition.

 

Paul Jenes OAM

Athletics Australia Statistician

President ATFS

 

Acknowledgements: Dr.John Boas OAM; Paul Jenes & Peter Hamilton – Australian Athletic Results; Mark Butler – Athletics Statistics Book, London Games 2012, Brian Roe

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