Russell Mockridge

Edward Russell Mockridge was born 18th July 1928 in Laverton, Victoria (VIC).
Mockridge was raised in Geelong (VIC) and was a member of the Geelong West Amateur cycling club, and in 1946 he won his first race of 40km.
SCANS042His short sight had kept him away from other sports and after a few wins he became known as the “the Geelong Flyer”.
Standing at 5 feet 11″ 1/2′ Mockridge went on to win the Australian road championship in 1947.
Rapidly progressing he was selected to compete at the 1948 London Olympic Games where he punctured twice in the
194.6-km road race, pushing him back to position 26 in a field of 101, his team consisiting of Jack Hoobin, Sid Patterson and Jim Nestor was also eliminated in the quarter finals of the 4000m team pursuit.
In 1949 Mockridge left a sick bed to compete at the Essendon Board tracks (VIC) to win double Amateur titles, the handicap and scratch events with superb riding. The races counted for the Empire Games selections, with only one event he failed to win due to puncturing. By December, Mockridge won the mile and 5-mile at the opening of the national cycling carnival in Brisbane and in Bundaberg (QLD) he won again making this his third title in three starts, beating Roy Mepham (N.S.W) in the individual pursuit 4000m. His fifth win by beating Charlie Bazzano in the heats for the 1000m sprint.
Mockridge was being hailed as no.1 sprint champion of Australia.
January 1950, Mockridge lined up with Sid Patterson in a special challenge match at Geelong (VIC), after a fall by Patterson in the first match, the second was delayed until Patterson received treatment however the next start had Mockridge winning by five yards. When the pair clashed in their final heat of the mile handicap Patterson took honours.
At the Empire Games held in Auckland (New Zealand) Mockridge was a sure starter and prospect for medals. Mockridge with Patterson competed with success easily winning their semi-finals in the 1000m sprint championship. Mockridge reigned champion over Patterson and won the 100m sprint and also the 1000m time trial.
Soon after the Empire games, it became known that Mockridge was to retire; he was to abandon racing to enter the Church of England ministry. He wanted to take on a three year course in theology. He went on to say “I have more to do in this world than ride a bike”. During the year Mockridge studied for his matriculation with exams held in December.
January 1951 Mockridge had decided not to make a comeback to further concentrate at university, having passed his exams he was asked whether he would try for a place in the Australian cycling team for the Helsinki Olympic Games, Mockridge said ” That would be a big temptation” and by April said if his university’ studies made it possible, he would endeavour to fly across at a later date.
This would mean that Mockridge who not had raced for about 12 months would go into a world series untrained. By the end of the year Mockridge had contested 10 national titles and won all of them.
MockridgeIn February 1952, Mockridge beat Lionel Cox in Adelaide, upon receiving a sash for his efforts he became Australian Amateur champion of Champions. Mockridge broke the track record of 12.9secs in the first heat and equalled again the time in second heat of the 1000m sprint championship.
Competing in Western Australia (W.A) in the same month Mockridge won all six races at the Fremantle Oval. Mockridge was keen to turn professional.
With the upcoming Helsinki Olympic Games the Australian Olympic Federation required athletes to sign a £750 fidelity bond for athletes to remain amateur for two years after the Games.  Mockridge refused to sign and was dropped for the Helsinki Olympic Games however could still apply for permission to represent Australia in the professional championship at Luxemburg in August.
“The truth is that I could not afford to remain an amateur for two years after the Olympics,” he said. “I want to compete in the world amateur titles in ‘Paris in August, but I would like to turn professional after that. It just would not be worthwhile otherwise.” Mockridge said.
In August Mockridge was chosen to represent Australia in the world sprint cycling championships in Milan (ITALY) despite him having not raced for 12 months won the quarter final but lost in the final between Enzo Sarchi (ITALY).
Mockridge let officials know that he would be unlikely to compete in the 1952 Olympic Games. Mockridge was willing to pay his own expenses to Helsinki.
Mick Gray, the Amateur cyclist Associations secretary said “If Mockridge won’t sign the Olympic bond then we will have to do without him. ìThe bond applies to all Australians chosen for the Games, and there can be no exceptions.
Mockridge continued dominating on the track and by mid-January had taken his third Victorian track title at the North Essendon board track; these included the 1-mile, 5-mile and time trial. Mockridge also teamed up with Hec Sutherland to ride tandem in the 2000m championship to win the event.
As speculation continued to grow about Mockridge withdrawal from the games selection, there was now talk that Mockridge could obtain a clearance to compete while obtaining his own funds for travel.
Mockridge continued competing in Europe and was taking titles at Herne Hill (UK) where he won the 550-yard handicap and at Paris (FRANCE) where he took on the Frenchís best and also won four out of five heats against Enzo Sacchi (ITALY) with a crowd of 10,000 spectators witnessing his fine form. Travelling to London he won the amateur invitation sprint at the indoor Wembley track.
In Paris (FRANCE) Mockridge was beaten by Britainís Reg Harris in the semi-final but took had his revenge in the final which he won, with an amazing burst of speed hit the outside of the last 20m to gain victory. He covered the last 200m in 11.6 secs.
Talks were still underway of getting Mockridge into the Australian Olympic team including getting Australia’s Prime Minister (Mr Menzies) to urge Mockridge to sign and be included.
In July 1952, Mockridge decided to sign the Olympic bond to remain an amateur however the time was cut down to 12 months with the help of Australian Champion Hubert Opperman, the decision to send Mock ridge’s nomination to Helsinki followed a telephone conversation between Mockridge and the Mayor of Geelong (Mr Purnell) who agreed to provide the £750 if Mockridge breaks the Olympic bond.
The change in notice meant that officials were rushing to complete Mockridgeís Olympic nomination forms before entries closed at midnight on the same day of acceptance.
Mockridge said, “I am extremely pleased to be able to re-join the team to ride for Australia at the Games as I wanted to do this all along.”
With the lead up to the Olympic Games Mockridge scored a triple win at London (UK), the 580-yard handicap, the 1000-yard scratch event and the 5000-yard race at the Fallowfield track at Manchester.
Mockridge had entered the 1,000m time trial and tandem sprint with Australian Lionel Cox event for Helsinki but the pair was having great difficulty in obtaining a racing tandem to ride at the Games as neither owned one nor one had been provided for them.
With a late arrival at the Olympic Village the Australian Olympic officials were in panic as they did not know of Mockridge whereabouts, As Mockridge settled in news had come about of a suitable tandem in Copenhagen but were also inspecting a tandem offered to them by pair of female cyclists, eventually one was flown from London which was discarded by the British team but to their disgust was only a semi-racer.Russell Mockridge and Lionel CoxLionel Cox was anxious to have a several tryouts, as it was the first time they had teamed up on a tandem. At the Games Mockridge and Cox beat an Italian pair in the first semi-final, sprinting in the last 200 metres in 11sec. In the quarter-final Mockridge who was the front rider eased up to only their terrific final sprint won by a close finish. The judges spent several minutes over the photo finish before they gave the decision to Australia. Mockridge commented: “As soon as I saw the line I eased up and was shocked when Lionel told me I had stopped too soon.” Mockridge said: “Fortunately we were going so fast that we were able to win but it was a bad mistake. “I won’t let it happen again, their win was from only three practice circuits around the velodrome prior to race by the pair. Mockridge went on to set an Olympic record winning the 1000 metres time trial, timed at 1min. 11.1sec, breaking the record of 1min. 12sec set by Dutch star Arie Van Vliet at the Berlin Games in 1936 by 0.9s. He became Australia’s fourth gold medal winner at the Games.
Mockridge then scored a double gold medal when he won the 1,000m sprint and 1,000m time trial and silver medal in the 4000m individual pursuit, also partnering Lionel Cox in the 2,000 metres tandem final which later totalled five gold medals.
In the time trial Mockridge from the start had a faster pace than any of the previous riders in the event and finished strongly. The crowd including the Dukes of Edinburgh and Kent applauded enthusiastically when the’ record time was announced. Mockridge said he intended to turn professional but did not know when; an offer had also been made from a French bicycle firm to join them upon turning professional.
After the Olympics Mockridge continued competing with Cox in Paris (FRANCE).
In November 1952, Mockridge returned to his hometown of Geelong (VIC) to an outstanding applause. Many had now claimed Mockridge as the greatest cyclist in the world.
A big crowd had assembled at the Essendon Board track to see Olympians Mockridge and Cox smash the 1,000-metre world tandem record by 4.9 sec. Their time was 1 min. 6.6 sec. from a flying start. Officials used three watches to time their ride.
In February 1953 Mockridge broke the Australian 1,000 metre time trial record by half a second at Henson Park. Mockridges time was 1m 12.9s. The Australian record was previously set by world champion Sid Patterson in 1949 in the time of 1m 13.4s.
In the same month Mockridge had a big surprise when a 21 year old cyclist D. Matthews from Sydney (N.S.W) won by seven lengths. “When Matthews went past me, I was so bewildered for the moment that I did not chase him,” Mockridge said.
In March 1953, Mockridge and Cox were racing at the Essendon board track and were involved in a heavy fall when their rear wheel of their tandem collapsed near the finish; they were unable to enter other events at the carnival due to abrasions received upon their arms and legs. In the same month Mockridge was declared Professional, Mockridge wasnít aware of this and said “I am disgusted by the way the V.A.C.U. (Victorian Amateur Cyclists Union) has treated me. ìI will not appeal, although I think they have made up their own rules to get rid of us. “I’m off to Europe on March 17, and then I’ll consider my cycling future.” Mockridge went on later to say that he had not turned professional because Geelong people had promised to pay the Olympic bond if he changed his status within 12 months of the Helsinki Games. “I do not think anything will happen about the bond if I am declared a professional, and did not turn voluntarily,” he said.
In June Mockridge was in Paris (FRANCE) to compete in the Amateur Paris cycling Grand Prix until it was known of his status, winning the event, his last 200m were recorded at 11.4secs. This was his third Grand Prix victory.
Mid June Mockridge was cleared by the Victorian Amateur Cyclists and was now professional cyclist. In September Mockridge married in London.
Mockridge continued to race, he signed a contract with the promoter Ted Waterford and raced around Australia and rode brilliantly for years finding success winning from scratch in both track and road races.
In 1955 rode notably in the 1955 Tour de France where it was unheard that a track sprinter would enter, two days prior to the Tour Mockridge had a fall which resulted in injuries to his knee and forehead but this did not stop him riding.
Mockridge finished the 3,830km race and was one of only 60 out of 150 entrants to finish in Paris.
In July 1956 Mockridge won the 60-mile Professional road handicap held at Ringwood (VIC) and the 125-mile road race in Victoria. Russell Mockridge winning the 1957 Suntour raceMockridge won the Melbourne to Warrnambool in 1956 in the record time of 5hrs. 47mins. 5secs. which stood for 25 years unbeaten, In 1957 he again set the fastest time and won the SunTour and the Tour of Tasmania
During the 1957-58 season a further rematch against Enzo Sacchi took place at the Olympic Velodrome in Melbourne. The result was too close that Judges had ruled Mockridge the winner but after speaking with Judges Mockridge insisted Sacchi had won and have the decision reversed. Sacchi left Australia saying Mockridge was the finest sportsman he had ever raced against around the world.
Mockridge rode the Healing brand on many of his victories.
In 1958 Mockridge won his third consecutive Australian 125 mile professional championship, the national 1000 metre pursuit and further 5- mile titles.
On September 13th, 1958 Mockridge was killed by a bus in Melbourne at the Dandenong Rd and Clayton Rd intersection two miles from the start of the 225 km Tour of Gippsland race. Mockridge died with great potential unfulfilled at the age of thirty.
Four months before he died Mockridge started to write a book, it was his own story called My World on Wheels, it is an account of his life in the cycling world.

Russell Mockridge

1303 Total Views 1 Views Today