As an ardent promoter of women's sport, Daphne Pirie looks forward to cheering on champion hurdler Sally Pearson at the Commonwealth Games.
As an ardent promoter of women's sport, Daphne Pirie looks forward to cheering on champion hurdler Sally Pearson at the Commonwealth Games. Yvonne Gardiner

Rewards of a life in sport: 'It's made me who I am'

DURING her 86 years' involvement in sport, Daphne Pirie has excelled as an athlete, hockey player, golfer and administrator.

She has enthusiastically taken part, from "the grassroots to the elite", as her involvement crossed from player into manager.

As a child, Daphne was encouraged into sport.

"Our father, Taffy Welch, was president of the Queensland Rugby League," she said.

"We were brought up under sportsmanship rules."

Taffy was a former champion sprinter who lost a leg as a Lighthorseman in the First World War and turned to sports administration on his return home.

Her first job was as a "field officer" in national fitness, teaching Outback youngsters to swim.

"Those kids hadn't seen water much," she said.

"I was an athlete first and then I went to hockey and got picked in the 1955/56 team," she said.

 

Daphne Welch beats Shirley Strickland, who'd just returned from the 1948 Olympics in London, in the 100-yard race at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground.
Daphne Welch beats Shirley Strickland, who'd just returned from the 1948 Olympics in London, in the 100-yard race at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground. Picasa

"My life's been sport all the way through. It's shaped my life and made me who I am.

"I can't wait for the Commonwealth Games in April.

"I want people to embrace the excitement of it all. They'll be amazed.

"I can't wait to barrack for (champion hurdler) Sally Pearson."

Daphne says wearing the Australian colours was her greatest moment in sport, and she'll be watching as athletes at the Games experience that same pride.

Living on the Gold Coast, a place she's called home for 60 years, she's close to the main Games venue at Carrara Stadium.

And she's making the most of the opportunity to be involved, with tickets for both hockey finals, the opening and closing ceremonies, swimming and athletics finals.

"We're going to have 6600 athletes and officials here from 70 Commonwealth nations and territories," she said.

"Our future champions will be the winners. We've got international facilities and we will get to international standard."

Daphne will also run with the Queen's Baton on day 98 of the Games relay, April 2, at Paradise Point.

"Through the Commonwealth Home Support Program, l have weekly physiotherapy by Nikki Hudson-Wilson from Allied Health," she said.

"These swimming sessions in my pool are keeping me fit and preparing me for the baton-bearer experience."

She'll be in good company - Daphne's sister Nola Slade is carrying the baton in Brisbane while her friend Marjorie Jackson, the first Australian female runner to break a world record and known as the Lithgow Flash, is in the relay in Adelaide.

With her husband Mick, who died last year, Daphne started a hockey association on the Gold Coast in the late-50s.

They both travelled to Commonwealth Games events as officials.

In roles that promoted female athletes, Daphne was founding president of Womensport Queensland, also Queensland Hockey president and on the boards of Hockey Australia and the Queensland Academy of Sport.

 

Daphne Welch as standard bearer for the 1956 Australian hockey team at World Hockey Championships.
Daphne Welch as standard bearer for the 1956 Australian hockey team at World Hockey Championships. Picasa

She was the first female vice-president of the Queensland Olympic Council.

In 2012, Daphne was named a Queensland Great and appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her services to sports administration, hockey and as an advocate for women and girls in sport.

The torch she carried in 2000 to promote the Olympics in Sydney is displayed proudly in her Benowa home.

Daphne has never earned a cent from her dedication to sport, but she says the "rewards" have been immense.


Meghan, Harry ‘struggling to cope’ in LA

Meghan, Harry ‘struggling to cope’ in LA

Dream of a blissful new life has quickly turned into a nightmare

Fresh confusion over virus 'detention'

Fresh confusion over virus 'detention'

Thousands of Melbourne public housing residents have been provided with "detention...

Man in iconic 9/11 photo dies from virus

Man in iconic 9/11 photo dies from virus

This man miraculously survived the 9/11 terror attacks