Two Victorian athletes with diverse careers in the sport have been named by Athletics Australia as the recipients of its prestigious Edwin Flack Award for 2015 and 2016 respectively.
The Award acknowledges distinguished service to the sport by athletes only. Named in honour of this country’s first ever Olympian and gold medallist, just one award is made in respect of each year.
Whilst distance runner Lavinia Petrie (2015) and thrower Russell Short (2016) may compete in quite different disciplines, both of their careers are marked with extraordinary longevity.
Not long after her arrival in Australia in 1966, Lavinia became a trailblazer for women’s distance running – among the first women in the world to run as far as ten miles and then the marathon.
Lavinia was national cross country champion in 1993 and was women’s captain of the first Australian team to compete in a World Cross Country Championships – in Morocco in 1975. Never one for avoiding a challenge she again represented her country 18 years later in the 100km World Challenge.
But that was of course far from it for this amazing athlete. She is now one of the most successful masters’ athletes in the World.
In 2014 she was recognised by the IAAF as the World’s best Female Masters Athlete. In recent times she has re-written the masters’ world record book in the 70-74 age group, adding to the three records she holds in younger age groups.
Lavinia is passionate about athletics and the people involved in the sport. Not only has she been an outstanding competitor for over fifty years, she has also been an active and much respected mentor, coach, official, manager and administrator for Ringwood AC, Athletics Victoria and Victorian Masters.
At the Australian Championships earlier this month, Russell Short OAM, at the tender age of 47 years collected yet another national championship medal.
In Rio last year he had competed at his eighth Paralympic Games. The year before in Doha, it was his seventh IPC World Championship. In all - 15 majors and a finalist on every occasion – his leanest result – seventh.
Russell who competes in para competition in the F12 class for visually impaired athletes, is a six time Paralympic gold medallist and has twice been world champion. And then there have been six silvers and four bronze. He has gold medals in both shot put and discus and from earlier in his career in the javelin.
He has competed in the Nationals across open and para competition for 30 years. It is an exceptional record. He received the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1993.
Russell is an outstanding role model for all athletes, but particularly young throwers. On National Teams he has been a leader, supporting those new to international competition, both with words and by his actions on and off the competition arena.
It is most fitting that Lavinia Petrie and Russell Short now join the elite and distinguished Honour Roll of the Edwin Flack Award, that began in 1982 with the name of the then national team captain, Max Binnington.
They were presented with their medallions on the occasion of the Athletics Victoria Awards Night on Friday, 7 April.
THE EDWIN FLACK AWARD
(Awarded by Athletics Australia to an athlete who has rendered distinguished service to athletics)
Max Binnington (V) (1982)
Robert de Castella MBE (V) (1983)
Helen Searle OAM (N) (1984)
Ray Boyd (V) (1985)
Denise Boyd (Q) (1986)
Glynis Nunn OAM (S) (1987)
Rick Mitchell (V) (1988)
Christine Stanton (W) (1989)
Gary Honey (V) (1990)
Paul Narracott (Q) (1991)
Simon Baker (V) (1992)
Susan Hobson (A) (1993)
Kerry Johnson (Q) (1994)
Christine Schultz (V) (1995)
Pat Scammell (N) (1996)
Sean Carlin (S) (1997)
Dean Barton Smith (S) (1998)
David Culbert (V) (1999)
Emma George (W) (2000)
Melinda Gainsford-Taylor AM (2001)
Kerry Saxby Junna AM (N) (2002)
Tim Forsyth (V) (2003)
Catherine Freeman OAM (V) (2004)
Stephen Moneghetti AM (V) (2005)
† Kerryn McCann (N) (2006)
Nicole Boegman (N) (2007)
Kylie Wheeler (W) (2008)
Jane Saville (N) (2009)
Stuart Gyngell (N) (2010)
Kyle van der Kuyp (V) (2011)
Bronwyn Thompson (Q) (2012)
Tamsyn Lewis (V) (2013)
Nathan Deakes (V) (2014)
Lavinia Petrie (V) (2015)
Russell Short OAM (V) (2016)