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UK Athletics

Heather armitage/young

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Heather Armitage

full Name: Heather Joy Armitage. (Later, Mrs Young)

Date of Birth: 17 March 1933

Born: Colombo, Ceylon..

Club: Longwood Harriers. 

Coach: Jack Murphy.

Career summary
Schools Gold

Heather Armitage was born in Ceylon because her father worked there as a policeman, but after the family moved back to Britain, she studied PE at Lady Mabel College in Yorkshire. Honing her talents for sprinting, she earned her first major success when she won the English Schools senior 100 yards title in 11.4 in 1951. A year later, her progress had increased so much that she found herself on the podium at the Olympic Games in Helsinki.


Relay Bronze

In 1952, Armitage won the Northern and WAAA (in 10.9) titles, and at the age of 19, she made the British team for the Olympics. She combined with June Foulds, Sylvia Cheeseman and Jean Desforges to win bronze in the 4 x 100m relay in 46.41 as the USA triumphed in 46.14 followed by Germany in 46.18. Four years later, both Foulds and her would be stepping up on a place on the rostrum and a world record was ahead too.


Battling Back

Injuries had affected her career in 1953 and 1955, but in between Armitage was among the medals at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver in 1954 when she was part of the English team which won silver in the 4 x 110y. There could be no doubting the continual success of British women sprinters in this period, which brought a stream of medals.Silver was the reward at the Olympics in Melbourne in 1956 when along with Foulds, Anne Pashley and Jean Scrivens, the quartet ran 44.70, just beaten by their Australian hosts, who won gold in 44.65, with the USA third in 45.04.

Individually, she set her 100m bests of 11.5w in a heat and 11.6 in the semi-final in Melbourne, finishing sixth in the final in 12.0 as Australian Betty Cuthbert, just 18, became one of the stars of the Games when she won gold in 11.5. Armitage, who also had England trials at netball, worked as a PE teacher in Lincolnshire and in 1956, she married mathematics teacher Frank Young.


Welsh Wonders

On July 26, 1958, in Cardiff, a world record for England’s women at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 4 x 110y relay where Young anchored the team home in 45.3. Madeleine Weston, Dorothy Hyman and Foulds handed the baton towards Young as England beat Australia, who were second in 46.12, with Canada third in 47.12. It completed a fabulous meeting for Young. She won silver in the 100y, bronze in the 220y and also made the final of the 80mh. In both the 100y, she set a British record of 10.7 in her heat before improving it to 10.6 in the final, just behind the Australian Marlene Willard, and in the longer sprint, over 220y, she established bests of 24.1/24.17 in the semi-final and 23.90 for in the final.

The European Championships in Stockholm brought even more glory as Young won the 100m in 11.7, beating Vera Krepkina, of the Soviet Union, who was second in the same time, with Christa Stubnick, of East Germany, third in 11.8.It was little wonder that Young ended the year ranked fourth in the world at 100m and third at 200m.


International Championships

1952: qf 100m, 3rd 4x100m Olympics

1954: 6th 100y, 5th 220y, 2nd 4x110y Commonwealth Games; 6th 100m, 4th 4x100m Europeans

1956: 6th 100m, sf 200m, 2nd 4x100m Olympics

1958: 2nd 100y, 3rd 220y, 6th 80mh, 1st 4x110y Commonwealth Games; 1st 100m Europeans

UK Internationals: 15 (1952-9)

National Championships

Won WAAA 100y 1952, 1957; 220y 1957-8.

Personal bests

100y 10.6, 10.73 (1958), 100m 11.6, 11.5w (1956); 220y 23.90 (1958), 80mh 11.4, 11.26w (1958)