JUDY POLLOCK (nee AMOORE) (25 Jun 1940 – )
Judy began her athletic career with the Mentone Club and first came to notice in the 1959 Victorian Women’s Championships when she finished second in the 220 yards and third in the 100.
Her first National Championships were in 1960 in Hobart, coinciding with the Olympic trials. She did not get past the heats of either sprint.
Judy then transferred clubs to University High, to join her training partner, Pam Kilborn - both being coached by Henri Schubert.
But it was not until 1963 that Judy won her first state title, taking out the 220 and 440 yards double in 24.0 and 55.9. She had moved up to the 440 that year - the year in which the AWAAU decided to hold National Women’s Championships annually. In Brisbane, Judy finished the event in third place in 54.8, behind Olympians Betty Cuthbert and Dixie Willis.
The 1964 Nationals were held at Royal Park in Melbourne and Olympic selection was once again on the line. Judy was once more third, this time in a faster 54.3, behind Dixie and Betty. All three were selected in the Australian Team.
Whilst at the Games in Tokyo all eyes were on Betty Cuthbert, Judy was quietly going about her work in the inaugural women’s Olympic 400 metres - finishing second in her heat in 53.85 and then winning the second semi in 53.39. In the final Judy drew lane 3 and ran hard, chasing after the fast starting Cuthbert from the lane inside. She finished an impressive third to take bronze in 53.4 behind Betty who completed a remarkable comeback to take gold.
In 1965, Judy and Pam ventured overseas to compete on the US Indoor Circuit. Judy had moved up to the 880 yards and on her return to Australia she won the double at the Nationals in 52.4 and 2.09.3. Her 440 yards time was a new world record for the distance.
At the Nationals in Sydney a year later, Judy again won that double in 53.3 and 2.11.7 and added a bronze in the 220 yards. Not surprisingly she was selected to compete in the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica.
There Judy embarked on a big program and began well in winning the 440 yards in 53.0, before claiming fourth in the 220 (24.14 secs). In a thrilling 880 yards final, she just failed to catch Canada’s Abby Hoffman who won in 2.04.3 to Judy’s 2.04.5.
In 1967 Judy again won the Nationals double, now conducted over the metric distances, on the North Hobart football ground in 54.0 and 2.04.4. She then undertook her first European campaign and was unbeaten - stamping herself number one in the World.
During the trip she set two world records - both over 800m/880yds. At the World Games in Helsinki, Finland she ran 2.01.0 to beat Ann Packer’s mark set in Tokyo by a tenth and then in Stockholm, Sweden a week later she equalled Dixie Willis’ world yards record of 2.02.0. Later that year Judy was awarded the acclaimed Helms Award for Australasia.
Another Olympic year beckoned in 1968 but opting to start a family, Judy retired from athletics until 1971. She quickly returned to top form and at the 1972 Nationals in Perth she again won her now familiar double in 52.5 and 2.01.5. Unfortunately shortly after, she sustained a leg injury. When it was thought the injury was improving, Judy travelled with the team to Munich but to no avail - the injury preventing her from competing.
She returned to competition for the 1972/73 season but retired once again in February 1973 for family reasons.
But there was another return to competition in late 1975 and another bid for Olympic selection. By the 1976 Victorian Championships Judy was able to equal her second best time of 2.01.1 behind Charlene Rendina’s memorable national record of 1.59.0. Judy was selected for the Montreal Olympics after winning the National 1500 metres title and finishing second in the 800.
In Montreal Judy ran a personal best in her 800 metres heat of 2.00.66 and in the faster of the two semi-finals she finally broke two minutes for 800m. But sadly, her time of 1.59.93 was not enough to get her into the final. Although Judy also ran a personal best of 4.14.22 in her heat of the 1500 metres, she did not qualify for the semis. She retired again from mainstream athletics later that year – this time for good.
But the flame continued to burn and in 1985 Judy ran in the World Masters Games in Toronto, Canada where she won gold medals in the 400, 800, 1500 and 5000 metres. She also won gold at the 1987 World Veterans in Melbourne.
Paul Jenes OAM
Acknowledgements: Mark Butler – IAAF Athletics Statistics Book; IAAF - Progression of IAAF World Records; Sport Australia Hall of Fame; Official History 8th British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Kingston 1966; Paul Jenes - Fields of Green, Lanes of Gold; Brian Roe