Vale – Gayle Anderson

Gayle Anderson at the 2018 Commonwealth Games

It is with great sadness that we share the news that Life Member, Gayle Anderson, has died. Gayle joined the Malvern Glen Iris Women’s Amateur Athletic Club (MGIWAAC) in January 1971. A representative from the club visited her High School and gave a talk about athletics and joining the club and Gayle decided that it looked interesting so she signed up. During her membership of the MGIWAAC Gayle was a club stalwart who competed and served her club with distinction.

Her achievements include:

  • 1975, 76,81 Cullimore Cup
  • 1977 Doreen Stanton Trophy 1982
  • Malvern Harriers Club Record Holder – Heptathlon (still stands!)

​Her service to her club is extraordinary and reads as follows:

  • 1972 – 75 Club Captain
  • 1985 – 90 Club President
  • 1982 Life Member

Gayle has held the club heptathlon record for 40 years. Her strengths were in the hurdles, long jump and 800m; however, she proved to be incredibly versatile. She considered her best athletic performance the day after setting her PB in heptathlon when she replaced another runner to join Raelene Boyle and two other athletes to compete in the Australian 4 X 400m Relay Championship and take the gold medal!

Gayle was ahead of her time, really, as she trained six days a week, while holding down a full-time teaching position, to ensure she could optimise her talents across the seven elements of the heptathlon. She would split her training between Sandringham and Olympic Park and often trained twice a day.

Many of us know Gayle as an AV Official. While still competing, she began as a club helper in between events as she liked to keep busy at the track. After being approached by a senior Athletics Australia Official a few years prior to the Sydney Olympics Gayle completed her Official Gradings qualification, which led to an officiating role at the Sydney Olympics and Paralympics. I recall Gayle telling me how proud she was of this achievement as she wasn’t good enough to be an athlete in the Olympics, but was able to be involved as an official instead. The rewards were many, with plenty of personal challenge, social interaction, opportunities to be around sports you love and be in a position to support athletes to achieve PBs. A highlight as an official for Gayle was being at ground zero to watch Cathy Freeman win the 400m Olympic gold medal at the Sydney Olympics. Gayle later went on to officiate at the 2006 and 2018 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and the Gold Coast respectively.

In 2017, the Malvern Men’s Summer Championship was named in Gayle’s honour and in 2020, Gale was nominated as a Living Legend for the Club’s 5,000m Club Championship. Many participants were able to enjoy Gayle’s company at a gathering after the event.

Two of my most recent memories that involved Gayle were during winter competitions. Our Women’s Division 2 team won the Ekiden Relay in 2018 and then in 2019, our Women’s 50+ won the XC Relay. Gayle was officiating in the changeover area on both occasions. She was supposed to remain neutral, but because our team and supporters were going bananas due to the wins, she could not help give us a cheeky grin and say, ‘Well done Malvern!’

For many of us, we will miss her ever smiling face, words of encouragement and incredible dedication as an official to the sport she and we all love.

Michelle Jelleff
Life Member