Vale Vern Curnow.
Sadly Vern passed away on Monday and he will be greatly missed by the Athletic Community, especially Gippsland Athletics.
An incredible life.
Verran William Curnow joined athletics and the Victorian Amateur Athletic Association in the latter half of the 1960’s.
Vern was a school teacher by profession and as such travelled around Victoria through his work commitments. This saw him attached to four athletic clubs during his career. Most notably, Vern is recognised mostly for his work in the Latrobe Valley.
His original club was South Bendigo, followed by a short stint at South Melbourne in the early 1970’s. Then the athletics journey began when Vern moved down to the Latrobe Valley and joined Morwell Athletic Club, which in the 2000’s amalgamated into the Gippsland Athletic Club, much to the chagrin of some. Vern also competed for the Victorian Masters.
Vern covered the four areas of the sport of athletics during his career: athlete, coach, official and administrator.
Among his most memorable competing moments, was in the green and gold in the Oceania Games at Canberra (1984) and the World Masters Games at Melbourne (1987). He delighted in the realisation, when Athletics Victoria (AV) finally introduced veteran’s competition to the Victorian Country Championships (VCAC) in additional age groups. Vern had won the men’s 50+ invitation long jump event in 1996 at Bendigo, four years before they became official events.
His coaching became a valued and pleasant avenue to his own competitive career and the extension of coaching into the Central Gippsland Secondary Schools Sports Association, GippSport and the Gippsland Sports Academy allowed Vern to further the aspirations of many athletes.
As a technical official, Vern’s three most cherished appointments were to the Sydney Olympic Games (2000), the Sydney Paralympic Games (2000) and the Melbourne Commonwealth Games (2006).
Whilst these were highlights, Vern was just as much at home officiating during interclub in Gippsland or in Melbourne at Olympic Park or Lakeside or one of the suburban venues when the call came. Vern also officiated at many State and National Championships over the years.
Vern was for very many years synonymous with the Victorian Country Championships and when hosted by the Latrobe/Gippsland Regional Centre, Vern was at the fore with the skills to organise the administration of the entire event, in addition to officiating during the weekend’s events in his now familiar role within the start line crew. Appointments to the starting panel and as Start Line Co-ordinator remained as special moments in Vern’s career.
As an administrator, Vern was the consummate organiser. His administrative talents went as far back as 1969-70 when he was President at South Bendigo. He was quite often Secretary to his club and was the long serving Secretary to the Latrobe Valley (then Gippsland) Regional Centre, after an initial stint as it’s Vice President when he first arrived in the Valley. Working alongside Vern and Pat Collings and the late Ron Lucardie, Vern Curnow was also instrumental in administering cross country events, including State titles when hosted at Lardner Park, near Drouin.
Vern was a long-time member of the AV Country Committee, where he served as Deputy Portfolio Manager for a number of years. Vern would travel hours, to and from Melbourne to attend meetings, so that the Latrobe Valley clubs would be represented at all levels of the organisation.
Such was the esteem in which Vern Curnow was held in, at a local level in particular, the Gippsland interclub competition was named after him in 2008. His own club has won the competition from 2014 to 2018 and in the current season Gippsland finished second to South Coast.
Not one to seek accolades or attention, Vern was recognised and honoured during his long athletic career. Life Membership was bestowed upon him from the Morwell Club, and he was in rare company, again with the late Vern Collings and Ron Lucardie, when these three gentlemen were awarded the only Life Memberships of Gippsland Athletics in the mid 1990’s.
Vern was elected to the State’s highest honour when delegates elected him a Life Member of Athletics Victoria on 22 July 1998.
Over his many years of involvement, Vern was also recognised with the GippSport Special Achiever Award; the Australian Sports Medal from the Australian Sports Commission; the Gippsland Sports Academy Sports Development Award and induction as a member of the Latrobe City Sports Hall of Fame. This recognition, Vern noted as special highlights in a rewarding career in athletics.
Vern passed away peacefully on the morning of 4 March 2019, aged 73, after a three year battle with illness. He leaves his wife Glenys; two adult sons Jared and Warren from his first marriage and grandchildren.
“Vern Curnow celebrates 50 years in Athletics.” – GippSport
Vern Curnow has dedicated fifty years of his life to Athletics in the Gippsland Region. Recently the Executive Officer of GippSport, Barry Switzer, presented Vern with a commendation plaque at a Vern Curnow Shield Athletics Competition held at the Joe Carmody Athletics Track in Newborough.
In presenting the award Barry indicated that Vern’s contribution to the sport is unparalleled. “Vern has been an active participant, administrator, coach, mentor and official during all of this time as a volunteer. He has appropriately received numerous awards along the way and gained appointments at the Sydney Olympics and Paralympics (2000) and the Commonwealth Games. Vern has also been a highly valued member of the GippSport and Gippsland Regional Sports Academy Boards. We really appreciated the opportunity to recognize his remarkable achievements,” concluded Barry.
“Vern Reflects on 50 years.” – GippSport
As an athlete there have been many rewarding moments competing for South Bendigo, South Melbourne, Morwell, Gippsland Athletics and the Victorian Masters Association; amongst the most memorable would be competing in the Green and Gold colours at the Oceania Games in Canberra (1984) and the World Masters Games in Melbourne (1987).
Athlete Coaching became a valued and pleasant avenue to my own career and the extension into the Central Gippsland Secondary Schools Sports Association, GippSport and the Gippsland Sports Academy allowed me to further the aspirations of many athletes.
Club Administration extends to four of the five Clubs mentioned and became more extensive the longer the period of involvement.
As an Administrator seeing the re-introduction of multi-event competition in Gippsland for both men and women and having a Shield Competition for the four Gippsland Clubs named after me serve as two important milestones.
As an Official the appointments at Local, State, National and International events around Australia that included Schools, Under-age, Open and AWD have special significance to me, most often working with the Start Line Crew.
Appointments to the Starting Panel and as Start Line Co-ordinator will always remain as special moments.
The two most cherished appointments were to the Sydney Olympics and Paralympics (2000) and the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne (2006).
The presentation of Life Memberships to the Morwell Athletic Club, Gippsland Athletics and Athletics Victoria; the GippSport Special Achiever Award; the Australian Sports Medal from the Australian Sports Commission; the Gippsland Sports Academy Sports Development Award and the Induction as a Member of the Latrobe City Sports Hall of Fame all note as special highlights of a rewarding career in athletics.