550m/600yds Members of the
Team of the Century
Jack Fitt (VIC) 1930's
Peter Toyne (VIC) 1970's
Jack Fitt, trained by Ned Richardson, was a phenomenal athlete who ran in the 1920's and 1930's.
At Stawell in 1928, Fitt won the 880 yards off the back mark of 32 yards in 1 minute 51 15/16 seconds and was 3rd in the 440 yards off the back mark of 4 yards, in 48.25secs.
In 1934, Fitt again ran 3rd in the Stawell 440 yards, this time off 10 yards.
Fitt was invited to New Zealand in 1930 to compete against the best pro athletes from NZ. Giving the NZ champion a 20 yard start, Fitt won by 20 yards in a NZ record time of 1-53.4.
On returning to Australia, Fitt broke the world 600 yards record at the St Patricks Day meet at Frankston running 1minute 12 seconds. Several times during the 1940’s and 1950’s, athletes attempted to better Fitt’s 600 yards time but couldn’t match it. The record stood for 31 years until beaten by Peter Donovan in 1962.
In 1997 Fitt was one of the ten nominations for the VFL/AFL boundary umpires in the AFLUA team of the century having run the boundary in 139 matches including 8 VFL Grand Finals.
From the Argus, 6th April 1934.
After winning the final of the 440 yards at the Bendigo Easter Fair, J D Fitt, the world’s professional record quarter and half mile champion announced that he would retire from the track at the end of the season. Known as the ‘flying fireman’, Fitt hjas been competing at the carnivals since 1921. Perhaps the greatest run of his career was at the Showgrounds, Flemington on Eight Hour Day 1932, when he won the half mile from scratch in 1-52, thereby lowering the world’s record by 2/5 second. As the required conditions had not been carried out, Fitt could not claim a record. This season Fitt has won the 440 yards races at Colac, Dandenong and Bendigo.
Born in 1946, Toyne was born and raised in Victoria. He studied science and education at the University of Melbourne, graduating in 1972. He spent several years teaching at Flemington High School and in 1976 founded the Kensington Community School. It was about this time he was discovered by professional athletics trainer, Sandy Hurst and was soon successfully competing with the best athletes on the pro circuit.
He was twice placed 3rd in the Stawell Gift final (1977 and 1978) and won the Arthur Postle 70m and Eric Cumming trophy at Stawell in 1978.
On 25th February 1978, Toyne broke the world professional 600yds (1min 10sec) and 550m (1min 10.1sec) record at Traralgon.
At the Bendigo Thousand meet in March 1978, Toyne finished a half metre away from USA champion & 1977 Stawell Gift winner Warren Edmonson in the 400m backmarkers in the time of 45.6s. Both Toyne & Edmonson ran off the same mark of 6m.
At the remarkable age of 33, Toyne won the Victorian professional title at Wangaratta in 1980, to confirm that he was the best all round athlete of his era. His consistency and competitiveness in events from 70m to 800m between 1976 and 1980 was outstanding.
In all he won five Victorian pro running titles over distances from 400m to 800m, won 30 professional events, most as the event backmarker, and held the record for 600 yards and 550m.
Both Fitt and Toyne were at their best over 600 yards.