Chrissie Dahm, 1930 Australian women's sprint champ started running in Nowra

FLYER: Australian and NSW sprint sensation Chrissie Dahm. Fairfax Archive
FLYER: Australian and NSW sprint sensation Chrissie Dahm. Fairfax Archive

Did you know an Australian and state sprint champion of the 1920s-30s started her running career in Nowra?

Well-known historical author Robyn Florance OAM has unearthed another great local sporting story.

Research through local and national newspapers, and along with an article by Graeme Thomas has brought Chrissie Dahm's amazing story to light.

Chrissie Dahm started her foot running career in Nowra when only a schoolgirl and went on to be an Australian and NSW champion.

At the age of 14, she had given no definite indications of the prowess which she was to develop later.

Indeed, Nowra folk remember her chiefly as the schoolgirl who was a record-breaker in the work of knitting socks for soldiers during the war period.

Born Christina Wilhelmina C. Dahm on September 27, 1904 a daughter of Phanus Johanus Peter Dahm and his wife Sarah (nee Robinson). Christine had two siblings; Cecilia and Peter.

News of when Chrissie Dahm shattered the world 100 yard record.

News of when Chrissie Dahm shattered the world 100 yard record.

She was a pupil of the Good Samaritan Convent School, Nowra.

Her mother operated a fruit and confectionary shop in Berry Street, next door to Hewlett's.

She was granted a license on the Sunday Trading Act at the Police Court on Tuesday, July 25, 1916.

On November 21, 1918 an examination of book-keeping, shorthand and typewriting, in connection with the National Business College, Sydney, was held in St. Michael's school hall.

Chrissie gained 93 marks in typewriting grade one.

Chrissie Dahm crossing the finishing line in a running race in NSW circa 1930. Image: National Library of Australia; Fairfax Archive

Chrissie Dahm crossing the finishing line in a running race in NSW circa 1930. Image: National Library of Australia; Fairfax Archive

At a sports day held on the Nowra Showground on Saturday, June 7, 1919 Chrissie won the girls 100 yards handicap race.

She was also credited with a great run at Greenwell Point on Monday, June 16, 1919 in the 100 yards ladies' race; off the 12 yards mark she ran it in 10 1.5 seconds; in a faster time than Amatto, who won the £20 handicap.

The family left Nowra around 1923 and moved to Sydney where Chrissie first began running in professional ladies' races in the early 20s.

Some of the press coverage of Chrissie Dahm's amazing but short career.

Some of the press coverage of Chrissie Dahm's amazing but short career.

At this time the amateur women's clubs had disbanded, and the pro leagues were the only competitions beyond school races for women.

She competed in several professional races but was not particularly successful in these carnivals and disappeared from the track for a few years.

In 1929, inspired by the participation of women in the Amsterdam Olympics, she returned to the track at the age of 25, training seriously for the first time in her life and began to run some very fast times for the 100 yards sprint.

On December 14, 1929 she won the 100 yards women's footrace at the Dunn Shield meeting in Sydney in 11 4-5 seconds.

Athlete Chrissie Dahm. Fairfax Archive

Athlete Chrissie Dahm. Fairfax Archive

In January 1930, for the first time, Australian championships were held for both men's and women's teams.

The championships were to be held in Melbourne and only three women's events were allowed to be contested.

Chrissie dominated the 100 yards at the championships and was considered a great hope for the first Empire Games, to be held in Canada later that year.

Dahm easily won the final beating Queensland star Rita Dean and Tasmania's Edith Youll in a swift time of 11.1 seconds.

Coverage of Chrissie Dahm's world record.

Coverage of Chrissie Dahm's world record.

This time was faster than the listed national record but was judged to be wind assisted by the officials.

She then returned to Sydney to win an NSW 100 yards event in 10.9 seconds.

The time would have been a new world record, but officials ruled that the wind had been too strong, and the record application would be disallowed.

That disappointment over, Miss Dahm soon had another one to deal with.

Chrissie was interviewed by a reporter from the Daily Pictorial and the article was published on Tuesday, February 11, 1930:

Athlete Chrissie Dahm's career.

Athlete Chrissie Dahm's career.

On Saturday at the Sports Ground, this friendly brown-haired girl gave an amazing performance when in the first heat of the women's 100 yards, she shattered the world's record of 11 seconds, her time being 10.9-10 seconds.

"Mum says I get my running ability from her," she laughed. "Mum used to hold up her trailing skirts and win all the races at picnics in the old days.

"No shorts for girl athletes then.

"When a kiddie, at Nowra, I loved running. Later we came to Sydney, and I took up dressmaking. The whirr of the machines affected my nerves. I was a nervous wreck.

"So I went in for hockey and other sports and look now healthy I am now."

She was nominated by the NSW Athletic Association for selection in the Australian team to participate in the Empire Games.

During the National Championships Chrissie was considered by selectors and the media to be a certainty to go to the inaugural Empire Games in Canada.

The Referee's reporting of Chrissie Dahm's 1930 NSW title win.

The Referee's reporting of Chrissie Dahm's 1930 NSW title win.

But it was soon discovered that the Canadians had not included women's events on the final athletics program, so no women were able to represent their country.

She retired before the 1932 Olympic Games, citing ill-health as a result of over-training for the Olympics, but she returned to interclub competitions from 1933.

In 1936, then married as Mrs Walter, she became one of the first women starters, and continued her association with athletics as an official.

This story Australian sprint champion started running in Nowra first appeared on South Coast Register.