We look back on the history of the women’s high jump event at the Commonwealth Games
The women debuted in 1934 in London and three days before she won hurdles gold the South African Marjorie Clark, who had set a world record as a 17 year-old in 1927, won with a 1.60m leap. Another teenage prodigy, Dorothy Odam, who two years earlier had won Olympic silver as a 16-year-old, also jumped 1.60m to win gold in Sydney in 1938. Dora Gardner made it an English one-two by taking silver.
Twelve years later, post-war, there was a near repeat with an England one-two and a 1.60m winning leap, but the most remarkable feat was that it was the same winner under her married name Tyler as she took gold on countback from Bertha Crowther.
Tyler also jumped 1.60m in 1954 in Vancouver but this time had to settle for silver behind Northern Ireland’s Yorkshire-born Thelma Hopkins.
All three medallists in 1958 at Cardiff were teenagers and Australian Michele Mason won on countback from New Zealand’s Mary Donaghy as both cleared Games records 1.70m.
Australia did even better in 1962 in Perth as they achieved a clean sweep as Robyn Woodhouse won with a Games best of 1.78m from long jump silver medallist Helen Frith and Mason.
In 1966 in Kingston, Woodhouse finished third as team-mate Michelle Brown kept the title in Australia. England’s Dorothy Shirley, who had competed in both 1958 and 1962, split the Aussies to take a silver.
In 1970 the winner was Canada’s 17-year-old Debbie Brill (pictured) who claimed victory easily with a Games record 1.78m. English multi-eventer Ann Wilson won her third silver of the Games after the pentathlon and high jump. To the delight of the Edinburgh crowd, Moira Walls picked up a Scottish bronze.
Canada gained two more medals in 1974 in Christchurch and all three medallists broke the Games record but England’s Barbara Lawton won gold with 1.84m.
The 1978 event in Edmonton was an even more high quality affair. Australian Katrina Gibbs won with a 1.93m jump with former champion Brill, at 24 the only non teenager in the top six, also jumping 1.90m.
Brill was back on top in 1982 at Brisbane winning gold on countback from Australia’s Chris Stanton as both went over 1.88m. Barbara Simmons won an English bronze.
Stanton went one place higher on the podium in Edinburgh in 1986 as she won with a 1.92m jump. Northern Ireland’s Sharon McPeake and Janet Boyle both cleared 1.90m.
In Auckland in 1990, Boyle won another silver after a jump off with Tania Murray who won in front of her home crowd and the Kiwis had three of the first four as the first six all cleared 1.88m.
The Games record fell in Victoria in 1994 as both Alison Inverarity and South African Charmaine Weavers jumped 1.94m. The Aussie, daughter of a Test cricketer, won on a first time clearance. Debbi Marti cleared 1.91m to take an English bronze.
Inverarity won bronze in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur as South African Hestrie Storbeck and Jo Jennings both went over 1.91m with the English woman having to settle for second. Storbeck returned as Mrs Cloete and the world champion in Manchester in 2002 this time cleared 1.96m. Susan Jones won silver for England with 1.90m.
Cloete, the only Commonwealth and world championship medallist ever in her event, defended the world title in 2003 but was absent for the Games in 2006 at Melbourne. Yet South Africa still won through Anika Smit’s 1.91m jump, while Julie Crane earned a surprise silver for Wales’ first medal in the event.
In 2010 in Delhi, in her fourth Games, Nicola Forrester won a modest competition with a leap of 1.91m. Forrester had been sixth in 1998 and third in 2002 but had no heighted in 2006.
Gold medal winners
1934 Marjorie Clark (RSA) 1.60
1938 Dorothy Odam (ENG) 1.60
1950 Dorothy Tyler (ENG) 1.60
1954 Thelma Hopkins (NIR) 1.67
1958 Michelle Mason (AUS) 1.70
1962 Robyn Woodhouse (AUS) 1.78
1966 Michele Brown (AUS) 1.72
1970 Debbie Brill (CAN) 1.78
1974 Barbara Lawton (ENG) 1.84
1978 Katrina Gibbs (AUS) 1.93
1982 Debbie Brill (CAN) 1.88
1986 Christine Stanton (AUS) 1.92
1990 Tania Murray (NZL) 1.88
1994 Alison Inverarity (AUS) 1.94
1998 Hestrie Storbeck (RSA) 1.91
2002 Hestrie Cloete (RSA) 1.96
2006 Anika Smit (RSA) 1.91
2010 Nicole Forrester (CAN) 1.91
Gold: Dorothy Odam/Tyler (Eng: 1938, 1950), Thelma Hopkins (NIr: 1954), Barbara Lawton (Eng: 1974)
Silver: Dora Gardner (Eng: 1938), Bertha Crowther (Eng: 1950), Tyler (Eng: 1954), Dorothy Shirley (Eng: 1966), Ann Wilson (Eng: 1970), Sharon McPeake (NIr: 1986), Janet Boyle (NIr: 1986), Jo Jennings (Eng: 1998), Susan Jones (Eng: 2002), Julie Crane (Wal: 2006)
Bronze: Moira Walls (Sco: 1970), Barbara Simmonds (Eng: 1982), Janet Boyle (NIr: 1986), Debbie Marti (Eng: 1994)
Most successful athlete: Debbie Brill won two golds and a silver and also scored a fifth place and she missed 1974 when she should have been at her peak. She set 24 Commonwealth records.
Most successful Briton: Dorothy Tyler won two golds and a silver at the high jump and also had two top five places in the javelin.