stories, photos, anecdotes….. sharing the past
With the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Parkes Library history blog will focus on Olympians from the Parkes Shire. Each post will provide a snapshot of the sportsmen and sportswomen who have worn the green and gold and called the Parkes Shire home at some point of their lives. The 1950s were a golden era for sports stars from the Parkes Shire, with two representatives in athletics at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. This post will be a snapshot of Edward “Ted” McGlynn, who was a sprinter.
Edward McGlynn was born 29 August 1931 in Parkes. He attended the Holy Family Catholic Primary School before becoming a boarder at Marist Brothers in Forbes in 1943 and achieving his Leaving Certificate in 1948 VALE: Ted McGlynn. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2016, from http://nswathletics.org.au/News/vale-ted-mcglynn
McGlynn’s teen years demonstrated his all-round sporting skills. He played tennis, football, hockey, cricket and athletics; and was proficient in the boxing ring. McGlynn won 52 consecutive bouts, but when he lost his 53rd bout his mother, Dot, made sure he wouldn’t lose again, forbidding him to fight again. McGlynn was a member of the Parkes Athletics Club. The club decided to enter the Country Championships at Henson Park, Sydney just for fun. They were just as surprised as everyone else when the relay team won and McGlynn won the 100 yards in a time of 10.1 seconds. VALE: Ted McGlynn. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2016, from http://nswathletics.org.au/News/vale-ted-mcglynn
The journey to Henson Park would turn out to be a life-altering one for Ted McGlynn. He was 19 at the time of Country Championships and his performances there meant he was approached by Bondi athletics coach, Jim O’Donnell. O’Donnell suggested that Ted focus on training for athletics. It would have been a difficult decision for McGlynn as he was an outstanding cricketer with Parkes District, having already scored five centuries that season.VALE: Ted McGlynn. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2016, from http://nswathletics.org.au/News/vale-ted-mcglynn
At a time when the best custard powder was “Mums” and Stansfield’s Garage sold Triumph Mayflowers which you could drive to McGirr’s Farmers Depot to buy your Golden Fleece Oils and Grease; training in Parkes was also different to the athletics training in Sydney. Athletics NSW records McGlynn’s unique approach once he decided to dedicate himself to athletics:
He decided to try athletics but his approach in the country was different to that of a city athlete. McGlynn only trained over summer and did it all without a coach or training partner. Over winter he would play hockey, golf and tennis. In 1952 he took the sprint double at the Country Championships, recording an astounding time of 9.7s in the 100 yd, which would remain the third fastest in Australia that year. But as in the previous season he did not run at the open state championships or contest the national championships. However he did compete at local competitions in Forbes, Bathurst, Orange and Lithgow on weekends. During one of these races, he recorded the stunning time of 9.4 seconds, just outside the world record of 9.3s. As McGlynn’s time was not set in an official competition it was never recognised. VALE: Ted McGlynn. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2016, from http://nswathletics.org.au/News/vale-ted-mcglynn
While not an ideal method, it allowed Ted McGlynn to live in Parkes. However in the 1952/53 season McGlynn decided it was time for a change. He started competing more regularly in Sydney, with his mother paying the return airfare so he could come home. Ted would take a commercial flight to Sydney and return on the freight/mail plane which left at 2am Sunday. VALE: Ted McGlynn. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2016, from http://nswathletics.org.au/News/vale-ted-mcglynn
Decades before frequent flyers earned points on rewards programs, McGlynn was regularly commuting to and from Sydney. Coach O’Donnell gave McGlynn a tip that would dramatically improve his running and also create his signature as an athlete:
Melbourne Olympian Ted McGlynn was best known for the smile on his face when he sprinted down the straight. And it all came from a tip given by his coach Jim O’Donnell of Bondi.
“Ted was a natural runner when I began to coach him but I considered he was too tense to become a champion,’’ O’Donnell said. “To relieve the tautness of his face and neck muscles I suggested he try to smile in his training runs and during races.”
O’Donnell’s advice worked and the smile became Ted’s trademark. VALE: Ted McGlynn. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2016, from http://nswathletics.org.au/News/vale-ted-mcglynn
O’Donnell was wise with his realisation that sprinters needed to relax. The eventual gold medallist in the 100 yards final in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics was American Bobby Morrow who has been described as “the dominant sprinter of the 1950s” and “the most relaxed sprinter of all time, even more so than his hero Jesse Owens” Sears, Edward Seldon (2001). Running Through the Ages. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. pp. 236–238. ISBN 9780786409716
This new approach and his dedication to training were paying off. In December 20, 1952 on the cinders track at ES Marks Field, McGlynn won the 100 yards in a time of 10.2 while running into a strong wind. In becoming sprint champion, McGlynn had beaten experienced Olympians such as John Treloar and Edwin Carr. Other top class sprinters that were left chasing McGlynn’s shadow were Bob Solomon and Kevin Reede.
The Athletics New South Wales website describes the excitement that occurred in the beginning of 1953 in athletics:
On January 3, 1953, McGlynn won the NSW open 100 yards title in a wind assisted 9.6 seconds beating Bill Job, who in November had set an Australian 100m record of 10.5. Kevin Reede was third and Helsinki Olympian John Treloar fourth. Treloar had never previously finished lower than second in a domestic race. Some veteran officials described the race as the best they had seen since Jim Carlton’s day. McGlynn was described as having an ungainly arm action.
After the race, McGlynn was due to return home to Parkes, but decided to take a week’s leave and prepare for the 220yd the following Saturday.
“Jim O’Donnell was unable to travel to Parkes so I stayed in Sydney to get proper coaching. I have not done any training for the 220 yard event,” McGlynn said at the time. “However I will make a strong bid to win the double.” McGlynn was also recovering from grazing and bruising he received after falling at the end of the 100 yds final.
McGlynn was beaten into third in the 220 yards in 22.3 seconds. VALE: Ted McGlynn. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2016, from http://nswathletics.org.au/News/vale-ted-mcglynn
While McGlynn was disappointed with finishing third in the 220 yards in a time of 22.3 seconds, a greater disappointment was the ruptured thigh muscle that resulted in him withdrawing from the national championships in Perth. Even more devastating for McGlynn was receiving the warning from medical professionals that he should give up running or risk permanent injury. Ted McGlynn spent a year recovering and aimed to achieve Commonwealth Games selection in 1954. He managed to compete at the national championships held at the Sydney Cricket Ground in February 1954. Treloar, former Olympian and now on NSW team management wrote that “NSW hope Ted McGlynn looked well and truly overtrained; he lacked the fire and dash that we usually associate with his sprinting” (Sydney Morning Herald Friday 12 February 1954, page 12)
McGlynn did not make the Commonwealth games for either individual or relay events. The announcement of the Empire Games Australian 4 x 110 yard relay team was greeted with controversy, with Hec Hogan the only specialist 100 yard sprinter chosen. The other three relay members were Brian Oliver (whose speciality was long jump), David Lean (400 metre hurdles and 4 x 400 metre relays) and Kevan Gosper (400 metres). Australia achieved bronze.
Ted McGlynn attempted to race in 1955 but again injury resulted in him announcing his retirement. Another muscle was damaged, with the risk of permanent injury. McGlynn stated that the muscle went when he was about 40 yard from finish line. However he persevered with the race, finishing second to Bill Job. VALE: Ted McGlynn. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2016, from http://nswathletics.org.au/News/vale-ted-mcglynn
He needed to train over winter and travelled regularly to train with coach Harry Arnall, a car-dealer at Forbes while contining to receive assistance from his long term Sydney coach Jim O’Donnell who in later years would coach triple international Mike Cleary. VALE: Ted McGlynn. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2016, from http://nswathletics.org.au/News/vale-ted-mcglynn
In further proof was needed that sport was viewed vastly differently in 1956 than today, the next episode in Ted McGlynn’s career provides it. Naturally Parkes Shire wanted to celebrate the achievements of an athlete who had competed at the highest level. Many knew that he was travelling regularly to Sydney and taking time off work to try and reach peak performance levels. Athletes had to pay their own way to state and national championships as well as the Olympics. Endorsement deals were not allowed, athletes had to provide their own racing kit and footwear. Mayor Alderman A C Moon had organised a celebration after a swimming carnival on Sunday January 6 1957. McGlynn was presented with a wallet filled with notes donated by the residents of the Parkes Shire. However this caused controversy in the administration of Australian Athletics who believed McGlynn should no longer be considered an amateur. This would mean that should McGlynn compete in any exhibition races, he would be endangering the amateur status of athletes running against him. This led to a disappointing conclusion to McGlynn’s athletics career and one that is unheard of nowadays. However McGlynn did not let it diminish his love for athletics, maintaining involvement in coaching and attending Olympians anniversary functions.
[Ted McGlynn] was described as having a gregarious nature, cheeky sense of humour, compassionate, kind, thoughtful and inquisitive. VALE: Ted McGlynn. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2016, from http://nswathletics.org.au/News/vale-ted-mcglynn
Ted McGlynn left athletics for accounting and then working in menswear store Esquire Mercers and eventually moved to Cowra. He passed away on Tuesday April 24, 2012 in Cowra. McGlynn was 80 years old. He is still remembered in Parkes Shire and has been honoured with street named after him, Ted McGlynn Court. VALE: Ted McGlynn. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2016, from http://nswathletics.org.au/News/vale-ted-mcglynn and Cowra Guardian April 26, 2012
If you have stories or memories that you are willing to share about Ted McGlynn or any of the other Olympians of the Parkes Shire , please contact Parkes Shire Library via firstname.lastname@example.org so that they can be shared and kept for posterity on this blog. Alternatively you may leave comments on this page.