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Hampton’s Greatest Sporting Moments: Dave Travis wins Commonwealth Gold

Over the next term, HSC will be attempting to discover the identity of Hampton’s Greatest Sporting Moment, with your help. This article looks back on Dave Travis OH (1964) and his Commonwealth Gold medal in 1970. This will compete against three other moments in Group Seven. Vote in our Twitter poll on Friday to decide your favourite moments – the winner will progress to the quarter-final stage!

Dave Travis may or may not have provided Hampton School with its greatest ever sporting moment when he took the Commonwealth Games Gold Medal for javelin at Edinburgh in 1970 by a margin of three clear metres.  But in any competition for Hampton School’s greatest ever all-round athlete, for the sportsman who made an impact in the widest array of challenging sporting arenas, Travis would surely appear on the podium, and he might very well take Gold.

The list of his accomplishments on the sports field is frankly exhausting.  As a javelin thrower, Travis competed in the 1968 and 1972 Summer Olympics in Mexico City and Munich respectively.  He won the Gold Medal in the 1967 World Student Games in the same discipline, and he repeated the feat in the 1970 Commonwealth Games, then went on to take Silver in the 1974 Games in Christchurch.  As an athlete he competed internationally for no less than fourteen years, and he held the British record for the javelin for four of them.

The landmark year was 1970.  The Gold Medal in Edinburgh was the pinnacle but not the only highlight.  In July he set a British record of 82.22 m, then went one better with a throw of 83.44 m to beat the Russian Olympic champion in the process.  At the European Championships in Rome, he qualified in second place with a throw of 82.38 m.  In the five years between 1969 and 1974, he threw over 80 m some 21 times.

But Travis was an all-rounder, and for all-round athletes, the decathlon is the gold standard.  Having, at the age of 19, set a British junior record for the decathlon in 1964, Travis targeted the 1968 Olympics for the multi-discipline event.  Sadly his personal best of 7,067 points left him just short of the qualifying mark, but he was able to look back on a UK record for the decathlon set in 1965.

These two careers were book-ended by two further forays into competitive sport at the highest level.  As a schoolboy at Hampton Grammar School, Travis was selected to play wing three-quarter for England Schools, keeping no less a player than David Duckham out of the side.  Duckham went on to play with distinction for England and the Lions.  Travis, by contrast, had other avenues to pursue, and after appearing in the three-quarters for the crack university side Loughborough Colleges, he was not able to return to rugby until appearing for Richmond in the 1970 – 71 season.

Finally, Travis trained in Olympic weight-lifting, securing the South East England title with personal bests of 105 kg for the snatch and 135 kg for the clean and jerk.  A subsequent career as a coach enabled this remarkable sporting personality to establish a tradition of British javelin-throwing that included athletes of the quality of Mick Hill and Steve Backley, setting the seal on an all-round career in sport that has few parallels at Hampton or beyond.

By Mr Peter Smith, Teacher i/c, Hampton Sports Chronicle

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