Waddell, Llewellyn Charles "Peter"Llewellyn Charles "Peter" Waddell M (AUS), geb. 1931-01-25
WADDELL, Llewellyn Charles ("Peter"), born 25 January 1931, died on 11 December 2002. Peter Waddell, as he was known among his wide circle of friends in the Australian athletics movement, had been President of the Australian Federation of Racewalking Clubs (AFRWC) since 1972. He was a life member of the Federation and also a life member of the Western Suburbs AAC (NSW) Club, and both the NSW and ACT Walkers Clubs.
Peter was one of seven children born to Charles and Bertha Waddell (both dec) and is survived by sisters and brothers Mary, Ron, John, Annette, and Robyn.
Peter was born in Sydney and his involvement with athletics spanned more than 50 years, in NSW, the ACT, and nationally. He was a team selector for the marathon, racewalking and cross country events for the Sydney Olympics and in 2000 was awarded an Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to athletics.
He represented NSW in 35 track and road walk teams between 1955 and 1979. At the 1955 AFRWC interstate titles he and Les Hellyer broke the Australian then "best" time as well as achieving an Olympic qualifying time for the 50 kms walk (4:53.33). According to the eulogy delivered by his brother John Waddell at the Mass of Thanksgiving held at St Thomas Aquinas Church, Charnwood, ACT, on 13 December 2002, Peter was among those with a chance of selection for the 1956 Olympics but a blood disorder at the time ruined his chances.
Continuing his career as a competitor, Peter was third in the 1961 national 2 miles walk, and achieved pb.s of 1:41.52 for the 20 kms walk and 4:44.55 for the 50 kms walk, both in 1965. Peter continued to racewalk, even as recently as some of the winter 2002 ACTRWC events in Canberra, following his diagnosis with cancer in April 2002.
Peter was a member of the Australian team that competed in the first international track and field meet for mature aged athletes held in Cologne, Germany in 1972, and also competed at four World Veterans Championships in 1981, 1985, 1987 and 2001.
Endurance walking also greatly interested Peter, and although he completed 540 kms in the 1997 Colac Six Day event to set a new Australasian best and also set an Australian best performance of 229 kms for the 48 hours walk in August 1999, the aim of becoming a "Centurion" (someone who walks 100 miles in under 24 hours) eluded him, despite several attempts.
Like many famous people of his era Peter commenced work at the PMG in Sydney as a telegram boy and worked has way up to be a telegraphist. According to one contemporary he was an excellent ballroom dancer in his younger days. His brother John said that his caddying as a youth at Pennant Hills Golf Club to earn extra money led to golf being a lifelong pastime.
During his time in Canberra Peter worked as a telegraphist and teletype operator at the former Post Office in East Block and also in the Press Gallery at Old Parliament House. He was one of those people who, in his retirement, could walk into a room where morse code was being transmitted and still recognise the substance of messages being tapped out.
Perhaps Peter should have been a journalist. From 1969 onwards he produced an occasional racewalking newsletter which incorporated difficult to obtain race results within Australia and overseas. This information, and his occasional witty and provocatively 'stirring' comments, guaranteed its readership among groups of isolated walkers scattered around Australia. The newsletter was printed and posted mostly at his own expense.
Other more substantial publications followed, including "A History of Australian Racewalking Part 1" (1989), "A Guide for Judges, Coaches and Athletes" (1990), and "Racewalking in Australia" (1991).
Peter was also an honorary publicist for the Canberra City Harriers, and later the Woden Harriers, ACT Athletics and, of course, the ACT Racewalking Club. Many a young ACT athlete who had scored a notable success, achieved a PB, or broken a record, was certain of receiving an encouraging write-up in the ACT sports media whose journalists welcomed the clever way Peter could fashion a news story.
In tributes following his death, colleagues remembered his supportiveness, friendship, and his encyclopaedic memory of athletics results.
NSW Athletics official Ron Crawford, who was able to visit Peter in hospital just two days before his passing, stated that Peter's archives and athletic materials "need to be preserved so that this information is available to future generations". Sydney Olympian Matt Beckenham expressed appreciation for the support he had given him. Australian international racewalker Jane Saville was able to leave a message of encouragement for Peter with nursing staff just hours before he passed peacefully. Gary Little, President of the NZ Race Walkers Association described Peter as "the complete racewalker, dispensing theory, fact, and physical involvement". Athletics coach Tudor Bidder described Peter as "a tremendous enthusiast". Lachlan Wilkinson, secretary of the ACT Racewalking Club, said that the Club would try to find a permanent way of recognising his contribution to racewalking. Former international representative Dave Smith from Queensland referred to their 30-year friendship, and Peter's passion for racewalking and commitment to his friends. Irish international representative Pierce O'Callaghan described Peter as an outstatnding ambassador to the event in Australia. Media commentator and former Australian international long jumper David Culbert said that if every State had a Peter Waddell reporting, cajoling and encouraging media outlets the sport would be better for it. Australian member of the International Walks Judging Panel Jill Huxley said that "we have lost a big chunk of our walking fraternity in just one man". Andrew and Lorraine Jachno, former Australian international representatives, and friends of Peter for 20 years said that "he was the link that kept not only his own family together but his racewalking family also".
(Based on material assembled by John Waddell, Bryan Thomas, Tim Erickson, Jill Huxley, Robin Whyte, Ron Crawford and Paul Jenes.)