Since 1928, when Edie Robinson had become the
first woman to represent Australian in the Olympic Games, the sport had seen
some significant developments. Women's associations had been formed in NSW, Qld,
SA and Victoria and there were moves to form a national association. The number
of women competing in athletics had increased dramatically and performance
standards had also improved. Even in the media, women athletes were getting a
little more respect with sports columns devoted to female athletes starting to
Athletes from the five states competed in these initial championships. The women
were competing for the chance to represent Australia in the first Empire
(Commonwealth Games) which were to be held in Canada later in the year. Clarice
Kennedy and Christina Dahm were the stars of these championships and these two,
together with the Queenslander Rita Dean, were nominated by their sporting
bodies to form the first Australian women's team.
At the close of the 1929/30 Australian season it was announced that the Canadian
organising committee had chosen to exclude women's athletics from the Games.
This was supposedly done because of the costs involved in sending women (and
chaperones) rather than male athletes. Women of this era were quite used to this
form of discrimination and, unlike today, little protest was made. In 1934 the
Australian (men's) selectors overlooked the claims of Australian women for the
It took until 1938 before a team of Australian women were able to represent
their country at the Empire/Commonwealth Games. Finally given an opportunity,
they achieved such great success in international competition that selectors
were unable to overlook their claims any longer.
heats and final were all run on the 25th January. Chrissie Dahm (11.2)
and Rita Dean (11.4) won the heats and, an hour later, lined up with
another four women for the final.
All five competing states were represented and after one false start,
the field were away to decide the first Australian national champion.
Chrissie Dahm ran a strong race, proving her 10.9 time from December
1929 had not been a flash in the pan, with a comprehensive victory in
She finished about three yards ahead of the Queenslander Rita Dean and
accepted the plaudits of the crowd. Tasmania's only representative at
the championships, Edith Youll, ran a good race to take third place.
Jean Cartmill (left)
opposed Clarice Kennedy in the Hurdles.
before the championships, the Sydney athlete Clarice Kennedy had run
an amazing series of 80m Hurdles races in Sydney. She bettered the
world record on a couple of occasions but for various reasons her
times never made it into the official record books.
She was expected to dominate in the 1930 Nationals, but the Queensland
duo of Rita Dean and Jean Cartmill had reported some fast times.
Tasmanian Edith Youll was an unknown quantity. In the first heat,
Youll sped to the lead but fell heavily, allowing Jean Cartmill to
take out the race by 20 yards in 13.3 seconds. Clarice Kennedy jogged
through the second in 13.6, beating Dean.
In the final, Kennedy was never headed and in an astonishing display
ran out the winner by a clear seven yards. Her time of 12.3 was
probably hindered by the choppy cross winds, but only 0.1 away from
the world best. Queenslanders Cartmill and Dean took the remaining
(left) is helped off the stadium after injuring herself in the High
Winter had been the undisputed queen of the High Jump for a number of
years and the 1928 National Games champion was expected to win the
first national title for a field event.
Most of the rest of the women were eliminated once the bar rose over
1.30m but Rosa Winter and a young Victorian newcomer remained in the
competition. The newcomer was Doris Carter, who would go on to become
Australia's best ever High Jumper through the thirties,
She improved her personal best to 1.46m in this competition but was
eliminated at 1.48. Rosa Winter had a clearance at this height, but
injured herself when making an attempting a new Australian record of
1.53m. She was taken to hospital for x-rays.