Winsome Cripps was not considered to be one of Victoria's best sprinters in
the 1949/50 season, but she was the only Victorian to reach the final of the
100y in the 1950 Australian Championships, despite twisting her ankle in
training a few weeks before the titles.
this mild success, Cripps improved slowly until she finally won her
first state title until 1952. Her times had dramatically
improved during the 1951/51 season and she was considered a chance of
making the Olympic team.
proved her ability in the 1952 National Championships, in Melbourne,
with a third place in the 100y, behind Empire Games stars Marjorie
Jackson and Shirley Strickland. In the 220y, she took silver
behind Jackson and was duly nominated in the Australian team for the
1952 Helsinki Olympic Games.
Jackson, Strickland and Western Australian Verna Johnston were the
only women athletes nominated in the Olympic team and were expected to
challenge for a Gold Medal in the 4x100m relay as well as compete in
their individual events. The
Australians showed they were in good form by setting a World Record of
46.9 for the 4x110y relay in London, just before the
in Helsinki, Cripps won her heat of the 100m to progress easily to the
semi-finals. She ran well again, placing second, in the
semi-final to join her two Australian team-mates in the Olympic
final. She ran well in the final, but was just pipped by Shirley
Strickland for the bronze medal.
the 200m, again, she ran well throughout the rounds and was just
beaten by a whisker in the Olympic final. Her time of 24.2 for
fourth was equal to both the silver and bronze medallists.
chance of Olympic Gold looked almost certain to come in the final of
the 4x100m relay after Australia had smashed the World Record in
winning their heat in 46.1.
the final Strickland and Johnston got Australia off to a good start,
and the team was clearly leading as Cripps ran swiftly around the
tight bend of the Helsinki track. Jackson took the baton clearly
from Cripps but, as Cripps pulled up, her knee hit the baton from
the baton bounced back and Jackson caught it, precious time had been
lost. Jackson recovered to finish the race in fifth place, but
the Gold had been lost through sheer bad luck. It was little
consolation to the Australian team that, shortly after the Games, they
beat the Olympic champions, the USA, and set a new World Record of
46.3 for 4x110y relay.
the same meet Cripps and Marjorie Jackson teamed with South African
sprinters Daphne Hasenjager and Edna Maskell, as a British Empire
team, to set a world best for 4x220y of 1-38.7 and also beat the
USA. But because of the mixed nationality of the Empire team,
the US time of 1-40.0 became the new World Record.
good form continued through until 1954, when the next Australian
Championships were held, in Perth. She ran third in the 100y,
behind Jackson and the new sensation Marlene Mathews, but took second
in the 220y, ahead of the newcomer.
was immediately named in the Empire Games team for that year and
competed with success at the Games in Vancouver. She won two
silver medals in the 100y and 220y, behind Marjorie Jackson on each
occasion and won a gold as part of Australia's successful 4x110y relay
continued to compete, aiming at another Olympic campaign in her home
town of Melbourne in 1956, and ran some fast times leading into the
1956 National Championships. At these titles, running as Mrs
Dennis, she could not make the final of the 100y and only finished
sixth in the 220y final.
the Olympic trials, held later in the year, Cripps-Dennis again just
missed making the final and lost her chance at running in her second
Olympic Games. Dennis retired from athletics shortly
afterwards. She died in 199.
about Winsome Cripps - COMING SOON!!