She grew into the sweetest little child who mothered the babies that followed, tried to blame her older brother for her share of the mischief, competed with him for top honours, and made a name for herself by running the hair clippers straight up through the centre of her hair (both from the front and the back) just one week before her first school photo.
The second eldest of our seven children, she was the one who pulled up her little brother’s pants for him, and who cleaned up the baby when she got dirty. During those years when the pressures were overwhelming and there was never enough time in the day, I would not have survived without her willing help. Tall and lanky, she could be described as gangling – all arms and legs, loved taking part in PE and began to excel in athletics and sport.
Someone told my daughter that she might be good at high jump, so my husband happily made her a set of high jumps which we loaded into our VW Microbus every after-noon so that she could practice at the park.
Doing a scissors jump, the only one she knew, she excelled to the point that she was winning her division in high jump at each athletic carnival. Having won the right to represent her school at the 1973 Combined Convent Schools Metropolitan Sports Carnival, and still doing her scissors jump when everyone else was competing with a western roll, she broke the record by 51cm (2 inches) at eleven years of age, jumping 129cm.
She was still winning with a scissors jump when she competed in the Western Districts Combined Schools Sports Carnival in 1978. Can’t help wondering what the Olympics missed out on!
By Margaret Irwin