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    RIP: Graham Crouch 71
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    Sadly, Graham Crouch passed away today.

    An all time Australian great 1500 runner
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    Quote Originally Posted by mal View Post
    Sadly, Graham Crouch passed away today.

    An all time Australian great 1500 runner
    He was born in 1948, so he was only 71. There was nothing on the Athletics Australia site, so I wrote a quick career retrospective if you are interested. Apologies for any typos or errors.



    Graham Crouch (born 11 January 1948) won his first national title at the age of 21 with a 3:45.0 1500m run in the 1969 Australian championships. Although now champion, he was only the 4th fastest miler (4:02.2) that year behind Tony Benson, Graham Gledhill and John Denholm.

    He represented Australia for the first time later that year at the out of season Pacific Conference Games in Tokyo, finishing 7th with 3:48.2.

    The following domestic season was "unfortunate" with Crouch languishing at 18th on the list with 4:08.0 mile. He still managed to make the 1500 final at the 1970 national championships but finished well back in 6th place with 3:49.2, 8 seconds adrift of the winner.

    Crouch came back into form in the 70-71 season, dipping under 4 minutes for the first time, starting with a 3:58.7 in December, which remained the fastest time for the season. In March 1971, Chris Fisher, the 1500 champion from the previous year, again bested Crouch who came a close second, 3:46.0 to 3:46.1.

    Five days later, Fisher again won, this time in a the mile race in 3:59.1, followed by Crouch in 3:59.5 and Tony Benson with 3:59.9 in third. There were no other sub-4s that season.

    In the 71-72 season prior to the Munich Olympics, Crouch figured in two blanket finishes at the Australian Championships; the 1500 and 5000. In the sprint finish of a tactical 1500, he again finished behind Chris Fisher, who won in 3:48.1, with Peter Watson in 2nd with 3:48.2 and Crouch taking the bronze with 3:48.3.

    The 5000 the following day was event tighter with Tony Benson (1972 OG), Crouch and Dave Fitzsimons (future 5000 bronze medallist at inaugural WCup) taking the medals, all with 14:35.6.

    Crouch was not named in the 1972 OG team, with Fisher being the sole entrant in the 1500 and Benson and steeple WR holder, Kerry O'Brien nominated for the 5000. However, Crouch had a successful European tour, finishing with a fastest time of 3:39.9 in Turku and 4 other times equivalent to a sub-4 mile.

    The 72-73 domestic season was more modest with regard to times but with Crouch continuing his apparent love affair with tight finishes. He finished second behind Williams in February with both recording 3:42.4, the two fastest times of the season and exactly one month later, finished second again behind Peter Watson at the National Championships, both timed at 3:42.7.

    He also competed in the 5000 championships but the result was clear cut this time. Crouch finished in 4th place with 14:00.4, making him the 5th fastest for the year at that distance.

    The 73-74 season was interrupted in by the Commonwealth Games held in Christchurch, New Zealand between 24 Jan and 2 Feb 1974. Crouches key tune up race was a mile race at Box Hill in early January, which he won in 3:56.7 on a rubber-asphalt track.

    That time became the fastest mile run in Australia, beating Peter Snell's 3:57.6 from December 1964, and well ahead of the fastest mile in Australia by an Australian, previously held by triple Olympian Alby Thomas with 3:58.3, also from 1964.

    Crouch was nominated for both the 1500 and 5000 at the CWG and opened his 1500 campaign on 31 January in Heat 1 of 3. First four in each heat would qualify straight to the final and Crouch secured has passage with second place behind Mike Boit with Rod Dixon and Brendan Foster making up the final two places.

    The final was held on 2 February with the race becoming an historical reference point for speed and depth due to the epic front running of Filbert Bayi of Tanzania, who set a new WR of 3:32.16, which remains the Tanzanian NR by over three seconds.

    Bayi's persistent pace dragged future Olympic champ and mile WR holder, John Walker, to a PB of 3:32.52, a time which he only bettered once in his long career, trimming it by one tenth in 1975. Ben Jipcho exactly one second behind Bayi in third place with 3:33.16, a new Kenyan record that remained his lifetime best.

    Both Rod Dixon in fourth and Crouch in fifth, also set times they would never better, with Crouch's 3:34.24 Australian record replacing Herb Elliot's former WR of 3:35.6h from the Rome Olympics.

    Crouch's time remained the Australian record for a decade until Michael Hillardt trimmed 0.02 off it. Crouch remains the 8th fastest Australian of all time with the 16th fastest time.

    Crouch did not start in the 5000m in Christchurch and would only run the 800m in the Australian Championships in March finishing third behind Peter Watson and Bill Hooker (father of OG and WC vaulter, Steve) with a modest 1:48.8.

    After the CWG, Crouch competed overseas with a 1:49.6 800m in Formia, Italy in August and 3:38.06 in Stockholm and a 3:38.1h in Turin being his fastest times along with another four times under 3:40.5 during May to July.

    Despite showing early form with a 3:37.1 at the end of January and the Australian leading time of 3:36.9 a week later, he did not compete in the 1975 Nationals. Later that year, he ran overseas over various distances ranging from a 1:49.6 800m, a 2:18.4 1000m, equalling the Australian best, all the way up to a 5:09.0 2000m. Two days after that race he ran his fastest mile of the tour in 3:56.4 in Goteborg. He also ran another three sub-4s along with six 1500s between 3:39.2 and 3:41.3.

    Crouch ran the fastest domestic 1500 in January 1976 with a 3:39.8, the fastest 3 mile in 13:08.4 en route to a 13:32.4 5000m, putting him behind only Ron Clarke and Bill Scott on both AUS all time lists.

    In the 1976 Nationals, Crouch only competed in the 5000 and won with 13:43.2 coming out ahead for once in a tight finish ahead of Dave Fitsimons, also in 13:43.2. Lingering back in 5th place with a 14:03.5 was a young Rob de Castella.

    Crouch was nominated for both the 1500 and 5000m in the 1976 OG. However, in his preparation, he does not appear to have run any fast times prior to the Games. In his Montreal heat, he ran his fastest time of 1976, a 3:37.97 behind John Walker 3:36.97 and Frank Clement (GBR) in 3:37.53.

    He again drew Walker in the semi-final and this time finished second to him 3:39.65 to 3:39.86, only two hundreths ahead of Dave Moorcroft who was six hundreths ahead of final qualifier Janos Zemen of Hungary. Missing out on the final in 5th and 6th were Thomas Wessinghage and a young Steve Ovett.

    The final was another slow race, the opposite of 1974, with a win to Walker in 3:39.17 but Crouch unable to stick close to him this time, finishing in 8th with 3:41.80. Fundamentally, Crouch was the oldest and slowest athlete in the field, so it was always going to be difficult to be up front off a slow pace. Here's a list of the finishers in order along with their ages turned in 1976 and the lifetime best at 800m.

    John Walker (24) 1:44.92
    Ivo Van Damme (22) 1:43.86
    Paul Heinz Wellmann (24) 1:46.7h
    Eammon Coglan (24) 1:47.78
    Frank Clement (24) 1:45.76
    Rick Wohlhuter (28) 1:43.4y
    David Moorcroft (23) 1:46.64
    Graham Crouch (28) 1:48.8
    Janos Zemen (26) 1:47.40 in 76 OG

    The Montreal Olympics was the last major championships for Crouch, although he did compete at the 1977 Pacific Conference Games at the future 1985 WCup venue in Canberra. He continued to compete domestically until the 1982-83 season, picking up another 3 medals at 1500m.
    Last edited by El Toro; 12-02-2019 at 02:31 AM. Reason: wrong time, missing location and punctuation
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Toro View Post
    Crouch was nominated for both the 1500 and 5000 at the CWG and opened his 1500 campaign on 31 January in Heat 1 of 3. First four in each heat would qualify straight to the final and Crouch secured has passage with second place behind Mike Boit with Rod Dixon and Brendan Foster making up the final two places.
    That must be one of the most star-studded sets of qualifiers from a heat in Commonwealth Games history.

    RIP Graham Crouch.
    Last edited by Trickstat; 11-30-2019 at 05:28 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trickstat View Post
    That must be one of the most star-studded sets of qualifiers from a heat in Commonwealth Games history.

    RIP Graeme Crouch.
    Dixon, Boit and Big Bren "only" went 3, 4 and 5 in the Munich OG final behind Pekka Vassala and Kip Keino.

    Other interesting points:
    • Tony Polhill of NZL, who finished 9th in Munich, qualified in another heat for the final but was a DNS
    • future 5000m silver medallist in Moscow OG and Bayi's countryman, Suleiman Nyambui, finished ninth in the Christchurch final
    • 10th place John Kirkbride (GBR) finished ahead of Bayi in Heat 2 of the Munich OG with both failing to proceed.
    • 9th place, the late Dave Fitzsimons (mentioned above) is the only 74 finalist to have designed a bridge that is now named after him.
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    RIP: Graham Crouch 71
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    El Toro - we need to hire you to write our bios for Australian Olympians for Olympedia
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    Quote Originally Posted by bambam1729 View Post
    El Toro - we need to hire you to write our bios for Australian Olympians for Olympedia
    Not much chance of that happening - I dislike work too much!

    However, I can guarantee there are plenty of under employed sports writers in Australia that could do a much better job than me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Toro View Post
    The Montreal Olympics was the last major championships for Crouch.
    Nice summary El Lazy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vault-emort View Post
    Nice summary El Lazy
    I realised that all I knew off the top of my head was the Christchurch result, and that was probably insufficient content for a post! Learnt some interesting things, thanks to Paul Jene's historical information on the AA site.
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    Also note that his 3:56.4 in Goteburg in 1975 came in Walker's mile WR race, with Ken Hall 2nd in 3:55.2 and Crouch 3rd.
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