Mr John Steven
On 10th November Margaret will be leaving school to live for a time at the Olympic Village; and although we will be sorry to see her go, we wish her the best of luck for the Games, and hope that she will not be training too seriously to have a wonderful time.
An occasional award is given to a year 12 student who has made an outstanding contribution to the sporting life of St Catherine’s at an elite level. It was named in honour of Margaret Woodlock, who competed in the 1956 Olympics in shot put whilst a student at St Catherine’s. She was Captain of the School in 1956, receiving awards for Sport, Music and Service to the School. She was Victorian Shot Put Champion 1956-1962, Australian Champion 1957-1962 and was Gold Medallist at the World Master Games 2002.
When selected for the 1956 Olympics squad as an 18-year-old schoolgirl, The Age newspaper reported it in the 20 September 1956 edition:
“Victoria’s unexpected ‘find’ in the shotput, 18 year old Margaret Woodlock, wears her red and black Frankston athletic outfit under her St Catherine’s uniform when going to training……
Margaret has never competed in a State championship and until a few weeks ago belonged to no athletic club. She then found she had to join to compete in State competitions run by the Victorian Amateur Athletic Association. As she lives at Seaford, she joined Frankston Club.
This freckled, wavy haired youngster is school captain at St Catherine’s and captain of the baseball team. Because of this, she plays baseball on Tuesdays and Thursdays and trains for the shotput on Mondays and Wednesdays. As there is no dressing room available at Olympic Park, where she trains, she wears her athletic outfit under her St Catherine’s uniform.
Margaret’s main interest was javelin throwing. She practised the shot put only because she felt it would help her in the javelin.
Her interest in both these sports started six years before the 1956 Olympic Games, when St Catherine’s was one of the first girls’ schools to introduce javelin and discuss throwing into the sports program. She had no training until she attended the national fitness classes conducted by Coach Franz Stampfl at Christmas time. He was impressed by her javelin throw, so she decided to take coaching from him. She said “although he thought I might be good enough for the Olympic team in 1960, no one considered I’d come up to form for this year. I still can’t believe it’s really happened’ …….”Actually, the Olympics game period is supposed to be my swot vac for matriculation, so I’ll miss out on that completely. Most of my study is done in the train’. She was a very busy student, leaving home at 7am to get to school on time.
Margaret came 12th in the 1956 Olympic shot put event – 12th in the world.
The 2020 pandemic created significant challenges for our senior school girls, including those in years 11 and 12 studying for their VCE. With the final VCE exams approaching, 50 past School Captains penned words of encouragement to them, including Margaret Woodlock. This is what Margaret said:
“In 1956 when I was selected in the Olympic Team, the publicity and media attention was relentless. Franz (my coach) took me aside and said “Always keep your family and friends close – for they are your support group, and will be the only ones there for you when all this is over”. He was absolutely right.
The same is true during this pandemic. I grew up as a small child in WWII – 5 years of curfew at sundown, total blackout in the streets, food rationing and clothes rationing. We came through it all together by observing the restrictions and supporting one another. Be patient – these difficult times do not last, all will be well.
As the Monty Python song says, “Always look on the bright side of life”. Everything will be okay – be patient, stay safe and well.”
Sage words from a year 12 student of 60+ years ago to our students of today. The strength of the St Catherine’s community never wanes.