Initially, the junior championships age was under-18 for women and under-19 for men and the meets were held with the open Australian Championships, which were held in different cities. The first combined Australian open/junior men and women championships were the 10th held in Perth in 1972, but in 1973 they would be held separate again. They were held jointly again in 1976, but permanently from 1978 onwards.
Age groups started to change in 1980 when the junior men’s age moved from under-19 to under-20. In 1983, there were major changes, with three age groups conducted, open, under-20 and under-18 for men and women. Over the decades, there were other age meets and championships, in various forms from matches to team competitions, in ages under-15 to under-19.
In 2005 the under-20 championships were on the move again and that year were combined with the under-23 championships. In 2010 the current form of the Australian Junior championships was born.
At the inaugural men’s championships in 1963, held at Thebarton Oval, Adelaide on March 23-25, there were just six events held: 100 yards, 220 yards, 880 yards, discus, javelin and pole vault. NSW’s only winner was Alan Cardy who won the discus (1.5kg) with a throw of 49.72m.
Lang Park, in Brisbane, hosted the first women’s junior championships held on March 21-24 with 10 events conducted. Those held were: 100 yards, 220 yards, 440 yards, 80m hurdles, 440 yards walk, high jump, long jump, shot, discus and javelin.
The first winner of the high jump was Tamsyn Lewis’ mum, NSW’s Carolyn Wright, who cleared 1.68m, a height which wouldn’t be bettered for 11 years. Tamsyn herself would win two 400m titles in 1994 and 1995. In 1965, Tamsyn’s dad, Greg, won sprint medals.
· Rare Sprint Treble: One of the most outstanding performances was at the 1983 championships, when Darren Clark (NSW) won the sprint treble. He clocked the outstanding times of 10.47, 21.31 (-1.3) and 46.73. The 100m and 400m were the second fastest ever winning times at the 49-year history of the meet.
· In 1958, 1960 and 1962, there was a junior women’s 100 yards race held at the open championships.
· The women’s walk distance has under gone many changes. Starting as a 440y event in 1963, the event’s progression has been: 880y, 800m, 1500m, 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m.
· Not surprising, Maureen Caird (NSW), was a favorite for her fourth 80m hurdles title in 1969, as the previous year she had won the Olympic title.
Early Australian Junior Championships
1st 1963 March 21-24 (Lang Park, Brisbane) 1963 March 23-25 (Thebarton Oval, Adelaide)
2nd 1964 Feb/March 27-1 (Royal Park West, Melbourne) 1964 March 21-22 (Olympic Park, Melbourne)
3rd 1965 Feb/March 24-1 (Perry Lakes stadium, Perth) 1965 February 20-21 (North Hobart Oval, Hobart)
Most Individual titles
3000/5000m Walk – Jane Saville NSW (’90-94)
Men: Shot - Emanuele Fuamatu NSW (’05-08), 3000m Walk – Michael Woods NSW (’79-82), 5000m Walk – Dion Russell Vic (’92-95),
Women: 400m Rosemary Hayward NSW (’96-99), 80m Hurdles – Maureen Caird NSW (’66-69), High Jump - Andrea Hughes Tas (’90-93), Triple Jump - Carmen Miller Tas (’95-98), Triple Jump - Sarah Sydney Qld (2000-03)
Two Commons brothers from Victoria dominated the early triple jump championships. Chris won three titles in 1967 to 1969 and his brother Don won the next two titles in 1970 and 1971. A third brother, David, would win the 1974 title.
The hammer throwing Farmer brothers, from Newcastle, also won five titles. Peter claimed two titles in 1970 and 1971, followed by his brother Greg, who won the next three titles (1972 to 1974).
The Carlin brothers, from Adelaide, Sean and Paul, went one better with three hammer throw titles each. Sean won in 1985 to 1987, then Paul 1988 to 1990).
But the race walking Saville’s were best taking eight consecutive titles. Jane won the first five 1990 to 1994, then Natalie the 1995 to 1997 titles.
David Tarbotton and Ron Bendall for Athletics NSW
Image: 1995 Australian junior 400m hurdle, Andrew Franklin(NSW) leads Matt Becken ham (AIS/NSW) [image courtesy of David Tarbotton]