Docco’s Diary: old scholar winners of medals at Olympic Games

Posted 06 APR 2021
Memory BankOld Scholar NewsSPOC Sport

Many old scholars are proud that our School has produced 3 Nobel Prize Winners, 2 winners of the Victoria Cross and 1 winner of the George Cross, 42 Rhodes Scholars, 10 State Premiers and 5 cricketers who have played for Australia, but many do not know that our School has produced 5 old scholars who have won medals at Olympic Games. Medals have been won in Athletics, Rowing and Swimming.

Sir Collier Robert Cudmore (Old Scholar 1897-1903)

Image: 1903 Prefects featuring Collier Cudmore (Old Scholar 1897-1903)

Sir Collier Cudmore, who later became a lawyer and a politician, was born at Avoca Station, near Wentworth, New South Wales. He was educated at St Peter’s College and the University of Adelaide, and in England at Magdalen College, Oxford. Cudmore won a gold medal in rowing as a member of the British four at the 1908 Olympic Games. Cudmore had started his rowing career at St Peter’s College, learning rowing from Headmaster Rev Henry Girdlestone on the River Torrens. In 1902 he was elected Vice-Captain of the Rowing Club here. He rowed at bow position in our 1902 crew and at No 6 seat in our 1903 VIII, rowing against Geelong Grammar School. He was at St Peter’s College from 1897 to 1903. He was also a School Prefect, a House Prefect, a boarder and Captain of the Boarders. He also played in the First XVIII Football Team in 1902 and 1903, and the Intercollegiate Tennis Team in 1903.

In 1908 and 1909 he rowed in the Oxford VIII which competed against Cambridge in the Boat Race on the River Thames in London. Oxford won in 1909 by three and a half lengths, with Collier rowing at No 3 seat.

At the Henley Royal Regatta 1908, the Magdalen four, of which he was a member, rowing in bow position, won the Wyfold and the Steward’s Cup, rowing the course in record time. This Magdalen four went on to win the fours at the Olympic Regatta.

Collier later returned to Adelaide to practice law. He served with the Royal Field Artillery in France during World War I. His brother Milo Massey Cudmore, who was also a noted rower, was killed in action in 1916. Collier Cudmore served in the South Australian Legislative Council from 1933 until 1959 and was a Governor of the School from 1932 to 1957.

Collier bequeathed his Olympic gold medal and his medals from Magdalen to St Peter’s College in Adelaide. At St Peter’s College Collier and his brother Milo each have a rowing boat named after them.

Timothy John Willoughby (HWD 1971)

Image: 1971 Head of the River Crews featuring Tim Willoughby (HWD 1971)

Timothy John Willoughby was an Australian rower, yachtsman and stockbroker. He was a five-time Australian national champion rower, a dual Olympian and won a bronze medal in the Australian men’s eight at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He made his first Australian representation in the Australian men’s eight selected to contest the 1980 Moscow Olympics. That crew finished with an overall fifth placing. He was selected in 1981 to a coxed four with Graham Jones, Jim Battersby and John Bentley who raced at the 1981 World Rowing Championships in Munich to a sixth placing. In 1982 that same four with Battersby changed out for Bruce Keynes was selected to contest the 1982 World Rowing Championships in Lucerne. They missed the A final and placed seventh overall.

In 1983 Willoughby secured the six seat of the Australian eight selected within a limited squad sent to the 1983 World Rowing Championships in Duisburg Germany. The eight performed well in lead up regattas at Vichy, Ratzeburg and Nottingham. In the final at the World Championships the Australian crew drew a bad lane and lost the benefit of the tail breeze however they raced a strong second 1000m and finished in third place for a bronze medal.

The Australian VIII selected for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics was built around the national champion Mosman Rowing Club coxed four of Jim Battersby, Craig Muller and Steve Evans. Willoughby was selected in the four seat and made his second Olympics in Los Angeles. The Australian eight finished third in the final with a time of 5:43.40 winning bronze behind Canada and the USA.

Tim Willoughby rowed at No 4 seat in the First VIII at St Peter’s College in 1971, winning his colours. He was at the School from 1969-1971. He also played in the 1971 First XVIIII Football Team.

Tim Willoughby died suddenly on 9 January 2008 while returning to his home in Perth, WA from the United States. With his death, the School Boat Club lost one of the finest oarsman it has produced in nearly 150 years.

Bill (Theodore William) Bruce (W&A 1940)

Image: 1940 SPSC Athletics team featuring Bill Bruce (W&A 1940)

Bill (Theodore William) Bruce (1923-2002) mainly competed in the men’s long jump. He represented Australia at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, where he won the silver medal in his specialty. Competition in the long jump was particularly keen at the London Games. Willie Steele of the U.S. won the gold medal at 25′ 8″; Bill Bruce came in second, taking the silver medal at 24′ 9.5″. Herb Douglas captured the bronze with a jump of 24′ 9″, and Lorenzo Wright of the United States ended up fourth at 24′ 5.25″. He showed his versatility by joining the track sprinters, John Treloar, John Bartram and Maurice Curotta in the 4x100m relay, where the team finished third in its heat with the fifth fastest time overall, but was unable to make the final.

In winning the silver medal in the long jump at London 1948, Theodore (Bill) Bruce, from South Australia, became the first Australian to win a medal in that event. Gary Honey (Los Angeles 1984), Jai Taurima (Sydney 2000) and Mitchell Watt (London 2012) later matched his placing. Bruce’s medal was the first won at an Olympic Games by a South Australian.

London 1948 were the only international Games in which Bruce competed. From 1947-1950 Bill Bruce was the Australian National Champion for the Long Jump. He was in Wyatt and Allen House as a boarder. He was at St Peter’s College 1932-1940.

In 1940 he won the Long Jump for St Peter’s College in the Intercollegiate Sports, winning his Colours for Athletics. The August 1940 magazine describes him as “An athlete of great natural ability, who will develop into championship class in any company…” He also did well in the “Putting the Weight” event.

Leon Stuart Gregory OAM (DAC 1949)

Image: 1949 Intercollegiate Athletics team featuring Leon Gregory OAM (DAC 1949)

Leon Gregory OAM was in Da Costa House and was at our School 1945-1949. In his last year at St Peter’s he won the 220 yards, the 440 yards (in a record time of 51.3 seconds, breaking the old record by two seconds) and the 880 yards (in a record time of 2 min 8.2 seconds). He was a House Prefect and he played at centre half back in the First XVIII Football Team.

He teamed with David Lean, Graham Gipson and Kevan Gosper to win the silver medal behind the powerful American combination in the 4 x 400 metres relay at the Melbourne Olympic Games 1956. This was the first Olympic medal by an Australian men’s athletics relay team. The Melbourne Olympic Games was the only time Gregory competed internationally. He had been the national champion in the 440 yards in 1951 and 1955 and finished third, behind Kevin Gosper and John Goodman in 1956.

Later he captained SPOC Football Club. He was granted life membership by SPOC Athletics and Football Clubs and Brighton Tennis Club. His son, Dean Gregory, was at St Peter’s College, leaving in 1976.

Hayden Ernest Stoeckel (SCH 2000)

Image: School House, 2000, featuring Hayden Stoeckel (SCH 2000)

Hayden Stoeckel, a boarder in School House from the Riverland, who left in 2000, won the silver medal in the 4 x 100m Medley Relay and the bronze medal in the 100m backstroke at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. He also won the bronze medal in the 4 x 100m Medley Relay at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

We have old scholars who have taken part in a wide range of events at Olympic Games. For example, in Equestrian Events, Scott Keach (W&A 1982) competed at the 1988 Seoul Olympics in the three-day event. In 2016, he again competed at the Olympics, in Rio, this time in the show jumping. The 28-year gap between Olympics was a record for Australia. Jordan Kerr (FLL 1995) participated in the Tennis event at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Rod Owen-Jones (FLL 1988) participated in the Water Polo event at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Athol Macdonald (HWK 1971) participated in Rowing at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. James Hardy (HWK 1950) participated in Yachting at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games.

In Athletics, many old scholars have competed at the Olympics and in International competitions. Some of these include:
• Ian Bruce (WDK 1950). Decathlon. 1956 Melbourne Olympics
• Bruce Frayne (WDK 1976). 4th in the 4 by 400m relay Olympic Games. 1981 Christchurch Pacific Conference Games. 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games. 1983 Helsinki World Championships. 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. 1985 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games
• Simon Arkell (WDK 1983). 2 Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games Australian record holder in pole vault. 1989 Barcelona World Cup. 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games (Gold). 1991 Tokyo World Championships. 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. 1992 Havana World Cup. 1993 Stuttgart World Championships. 1993 Toronto World Indoor Championships. 1995 Goteburg World Championships. 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games
• Scotchy (Alastair) Gordon OAM (SCH 1946). 4 x 100m. 1950 Auckland Empire Games (Gold)
• Nicholas Birks (W&A 1957). Silver, Bronze and 4th in Javelin. 1958 Cardiff Commonwealth Games. 1962 Perth Commonwealth Games. 1966 Jamaica Commonwealth Games
• Don McLennan (DAC 1968). Long Jump. 1977 Australia vs New Zealand Match
• Henry Frayne (WDK 2007). Triple Jump and Long Jump. 2008 Bydgoszcz World Junior Championships. 2009 Belgrade Universiade. 2011 Daegu World Championships. 2012 Istanbul World Indoor Championships (Silver). 2012 London Olympic Games. 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games
• Jamie Botten (W&A 1973). 800m (World University Games Bulgaria). 1977 Australia vs New Zealand Match. World University Games

David Docwra

David Docwra retired from St Peter’s College in December 2015 after 37 years’ service, and will be fondly remembered by many as a dedicated teacher, a committed coach of squash, cricket and soccer, and most especially as a passionate Head of Hawkes House for 21 years.

Thank you to School Archivist, Andrea McKinnon-Matthews for supplying photographs from the School Archives.