Gillian Cooke . . . photo by Bobby Gavin
scottishathletics Historian, Arnold Black, continues our look at the last 60 years of Scottish rankings with the focus this time on the jumping events – taking in the high jump, pole vault, long and triple jumps.
The four events were established events on the men’s side but it was not until 1990 that the triple jump was established for the women with the pole vault being added to the women’s championship programme four years later.
The event group favours combined eventers who include three of the events within the decathlon but only Angus McKenzie in our top 10 was a recognised decathlete during his career. Ally Strange is the only athlete in the top ten to score across all four jumps events.
The men’s and women’s lists were tightly packed with Craig Duncan, Darren Ritchie, David Stevenson and James McLachlan all within 10 points of tenth place, while Kirst Maguire and Courtney MacGuire were similarly edged out on the women’s side.
Here’s the overall top ten list for ‘Above and Beyond’.
10=. Crawford Fairbrother & Jayne Nisbet
Victoria Park’s Crawford Fairbrother dominated the Scottish high jump scene in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s.
He first appeared in the rankings in 1955, retiring in 1973, both leading the rankings and winning the Scottish title in every one of the 13 years from 1957 to 1969. He competed at four Commonwealth Games (he was 4th in 1966) and was the first Scot to high jump 2 metres.
Jayne Nisbet (Edinburgh Southern & AC) won ten Scottish high jump titles between 2006 and 2013 and two triple jump titles.
She led the Scottish high jump rankings on five occasions, setting a career best of 1.87 in 2014, a national indoor record, having also set a national record at the triple jump. She was a high jump finalist for Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
9 Hamish Robertson
Hamish Robertson (Bellahouston) led the Scottish triple jump rankings seven times between 1964 and 1972, also topping the long jump lists in 1965 and 1966.
He won nine national titles, three long and six triple, set ten Scottish records and represented Scotland in both jumps at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.
8 Alasdair Strange
Ally Strange excelled in all four jumping events, achieving 2m in the high jump, 5m in the pole vault, 7m in the long jump and 15m in the triple jump.
He first appeared in the top ten rankings as a vaulter in 2001. He led the triple jump rankings in 2005 and 2007 and won four of his five national titles at that event but it was in the pole vault that he represented Scotland at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
7 John Carr
Airdrie and Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier John Carr first appeared in the top ten in the triple jump in 2003 and for the subsequent 11 years was a fixture in the top half of the long and triple jump rankings.
John led the Scottish rankings on four occasions in the triple jump and twice in the long jump, winning nine senior national titles. He is currently in the top five all-time in both the long and triple jumps.
6 Ruth Irving
Ruth Irving (Wirral and Edinburgh Southern) was Scotland’s leading-ranked long jumper every year bar one from 1991 to 2003, achieving a best of 6.33 metres. She represented Scotland at the 1994 and 2002 Commonwealth Games and won ten national long jump titles.
Ruth was also a triple jump champion and twice led the triple jump rankings
Geoff Parsons is interviewed by Bryan Burnett about Hall of Fame inclusion at our Awards Dinner in 2018 (photo by Bobby Gavin)
5 Geoff Parsons
From the time Geoff Parsons first appeared at the top of the Scottish rankings as an 18 year old in 1982, he retained that leading position for fifteen consecutive years in an outstanding career which saw him compete at two Olympic Games, three World championships, five Europeans and four Commonwealth Games.
He won 10 British titles and was a strong supporter of the Scottish championships as well, winning nine outdoor and four indoor national titles.
4 Karen Hambrook/Skeggs
The first main year of triple jumping in Scotland was in 1990 and Ashford’s Karen Hambrook, a 6m long jumper, dominated the early years of the event, leading the Scottish rankings for the first six years and setting eight Scottish records. She medalled nine times at British championships and won seven Scottish titles, with a further three at the long jump.
3 Angus McKenzie
The highest ranked male athlete, the versatile Angus McKenzie first appeared in the top ten rankings in 1971 as a 16-year-old, in high jump (second), long jump (10th) and triple jump (fifth). A decathlete who has scored over 7,000 points, over his career, he would feature in the top ten in ten different events.
At the long jump, he set a UK junior record and in the high jump, he became the first British athlete to jump over 7 feet outdoors. He topped the Scottish high jump rankings three times and the long jump five times.
Moira Maguire’s contribution as Track and Field Commission Convenor is recognised by Mark Munro in August 2019 (photo by Bobby Gavin)
2 Moira Walls/Maguire
Moira Walls was leading the Scottish high jump rankings at the age of 16 and went on to an outstanding career that took in a European Junior long jump silver medal and a Commonwealth Games high jump bronze by 1970, and Olympic selection in 1976.
She set 28 Scottish records at high and long jump and featured in the top ten rankings in a 19-year span between 1967 and 1985, leading the high jump rankings nine times and the long jump six times, also featuring at the top of the sprint hurdles and pentathlon rankings.
1 Gillian Cooke
Supreme among our jumpers is Gillian Cooke. Gillian has represented Scotland at both pole vault and long jump at the Commonwealth Games. She has set national and native records at long jump and native records at both pole vault and triple jump.
She has won 12 national titles in jumps events in a career which has seen her rank in the top ten 44 times in the jumps from 1999 to 2020, leading the pole vault rankings in 2002, when she competed at the Manchester Games, the long jump five times from 2004 to 2008, competing at the Melbourne Games in 2006, and the triple jump in 2004.
Here are the top 10 points scorers on the men’s and women’s jumps lists:
1 Angus McKenzie, 214 points
2 Geoff Parsons, 197
3 John Carr, 184
4 Alasdair Strange, 177
5 Hamish Robertson, 175
6 Crawford Fairbrother, 164
7 Jamie Quarry, 159
8 David Kidner, 155
9= Douglas Hamilton, 154
9= Duncan Mathieson, 154
1 Gillian Cooke, 301 points
2 Moira Walls/Maguire, 231
3 Karen Hambrook/Skeggs, 205
4 Ruth Irving, 188
5 Jayne Nisbet, 164
6= Alix Jamieson/Stevenson, 150
6= Sarah Warnock, 150
8 Nony Mordi, 148
9 Hazel Melvin, 140
10 Rhona Pinkerton, 134