Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and

Rosemary Chrimes - A Star for 40 Years (June 2011)

Rosemary Chrimes, to my mind is the best example of a 'Class Athlete' still athletically excellent in old age.
At 78, despite the fact that in the British Masters at Alexander Stadium, Birmingham in June 2011, she smiled and said she was creaking and arthritic.
       She was born in Kelso in the Scottish Borders on 19th of May 1933. I think Rosemary looks more athletic now, with her slimmer build, than she appeared when winning the Discus Commonwealth Gold medal in Edinburgh in 1970, as Rosemary Payne. Then she was essentially a thrower but now sprints, as well with great success in the W75 age bracket. I tend to think of Rosemary Chrimes as a ' Frontiers Lady' opening a path for other people to follow in older age in years to come. She pushes back the boundaries of what can be achieved at an older age. Rosemary was married to Howard Payne, who won the hammer competition in the Commonwealth Games at Edinburgh in 1970 and she won the discus for Scotland at the same meeting with 54.66.
 In recent times World records or British age records often come when she is doing several events in one day.
As a 'W75' she recently achieved  A World W75 age record of 9.60 in the shot and 29.07 in the discus. Back when she was 35 she threw 58.02 for the discus, for a British W35 Best in 1972, the year she competed in the Munich Olympic Games. Ever since she has been enjoying athletics and breaking age records.
   How did it all begin for Rosemary Chrimes " When I was still at school and I was 16/17. My older sister was married to Harry Duguid who was a discus thrower when he was at university' (British Record holder in 1951 with 155'3/47,32). ' He said ' I think you should try it.' I think you would quite enjoy it!'
Up to then Rosemary did not know anything about throwing the discus!..
   ' Athletics in a little town like Kelso did not have a track. We used to run round the rugby field'
   ' For a good many years I was married to Howard Payne. He was a mad keen athlete. I would possibly not have kept going if it was not for Howard who said to me ' You can improve. You can do this! He had a big influence.'
  In those days when they were competing there were problems with throwing implements, as there is in other ways these days. ' I remember Howard and I wheeling a barrel full of concrete to put down a patch of concrete but sadly now health and safety are going crazy. It is very difficult for a thrower to find any place to practise because of health and safety. Even back in the University of Birmingham, where we trained for years, there are no event nets or anything. They are all locked up. You can't throw. How do you get throwers facilities if there is no facilities--So few--where you are allowed to use them.'
   Rosemary pointed out ' Another thing is you have got to have the strings around the track. With health and safety they are bringing the nets in so close for throwers It is almost more dangerous because, you keep hitting the thing so, today has got it's problems as well'
   I did say to Rosemary "When you see how commercial the Olympics are these days it must have given her a lot of pleasure to have been in athletics when it has been for genuine amateurs so, did she think it had lost something?.
   ' I think it has but the standards are improving. I think when we were genuine amateurs we actually enjoyed it to some extent. We enjoyed it more! We were keen but it was not so cutthroat and there was not so much suspicion around. Drugs testing, sex tests and whatever. Mind you there is still camaraderie in vets.The vets is ' purer.'
   Looking back with the richness of time, winning a Gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in 1970 must be very special in her book.
    'That is true. Particularly as it was in Edinburgh. The right place to do it.'
    All those years between she has enjoyed athletics?
' That is true too and it keeps you fit and reasonably healthy.  Everybody including myself think I am a bit crazy but never mind. I have got to keep going till I am 80. There are some records up there to be broken, If I live that long! she
remarked in a light hearted way.
   Rosemary has met some interesting people and been in some interesting situations when she competed as an international
   ' Indeed yes. Going back a long time to 1963 when the' Iron Curtain' was down. The
Russians, I don't think had seen crazy Westerners ever. So, that was a great experience. We went to Volgograd. Often when you go to foreign countries they say 'Would you like to see the Cathedral and art gallery and so on. In Volgograd they said ' Would you like to see our hydro electric Power Station'
   'Yes! as they then snatched everybody's camera--Funny guys in suits were following us around. That made us realise what freedom we had. I remember one of our coaches talking to one of the Russians who knew English and the coaches love to exchange ideas. He said to one of the Russians Come up and see, either a book or picture something! in his room. The Russian coach was three steps behind when, suddenly 2 guys appeared at each elbow so he could not make a move'
   Talking of Russians there was an interesting case in the British National Newspapers when the Russians came over to England in the '50's!
   " I always remember, said Rosemary, 'The Lady With the Hats' (That person was Nina Ponomaryova who was third in the Olympic discus of 1956 and won in 1960. She was arrested as the C & A detectives thought she had scooped the hats up under the cover of a paper bag from another store. She said she had not stolen them but paid for them but had not remembered getting a receipt. However the judge said ' I think the interests of justice will be served if I discharge the prisoner absolutely on payment of 3 guineas costs." Foreign news The Time 22nd of October 1956).
' I competed against her 30 years later in the Vets after we had competed together 30 years before in an ordinary international. I must say I was pleased to get my revenge. She was a great character.'
   ' I remember the East German discus thrower Karen Illgen (3rd in the 1969 European Discus Champ's . Had a best of 63.66). Rosemary continued " She was one of the best throwers in the World and still doing the Vets. When she came over to England back then she was not in the hotel in time because of the curfew was. 9'0'clock or something. Next morning she was on the carpet and told off by the coaches and Team Managers because she had broken the rules and was told, she would never compete again for her country' Rosemary said she spoke some English and told her that the worst thing at the time, was girls she competed with her on the team, if they saw her coming down the street they would cross over the road rather than be seen with her. 'Discipline incredible!' thought Rosemary.

Alastair Aitken

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