Vale: Edwin William Carr (1928-2018)
Edwin “Eddie” Carr stepped out from under the long shadow of his famous father, sprinter Edwin “Slip” Carr, to write his name in the records of Australian athletics and forge a career as a talented and dedicated surgeon.
Eddie attended Sydney Church of England Grammar School (SCEGS) at North Sydney from 1938 to 1946. In 1941, he moved with the junior school to Mt Victoria over fears of a possible attack from the Japanese Navy in World War II.
Slip Carr, who had competed for Australia at the 1924 Paris Olympics, watched his son’s athletic talent emerge. Eddie was U16 school champion athlete in 1944 , open champion (1946), then GPS 440 yds champion (1945, 1946) and All Schools champion over 100 yds and 440 yds.
In 1947, he enrolled in medical studies at Sydney University and joined the university athletic club (SUAC). That year, representing NSW, he came second in the Australian 440 yd title to John Bartram who went to the London Olympic Games the following year.
Eddie was coached by Professor of Physiology Frank Cotton whose ideas about physical performance and training were very influential. Swim coach Forbes Carlyle worked closely with Cotton who gathered extensive data on measurements of pulse rate, blood pressure, lung capacity and muscular performance to guide training.
In 1949, Eddie toured NZ with an Australian athletic team. He returned there in 1950, winning gold medals in the individual 440 yds (47.9s) and the 4x440 yd relay at the Empire Games (the forerunner of the modern Commonwealth Games).
One of Eddie’s most cherished victories was a contest with the great Jamaican sprinter Herb McKenley, multiple medal winner at the London and Helsinki Olympics and 440 yd world record holder. McKenley brought star power to the 440 yd final at the 1949 Australian T&F championships. A violent thunder storm darkened the SCG as the gun went off, rain bucketed down and Eddie breasted the tape well in front.
He was Australian 440 yds champion from 1948-49 to 1951-52. An injury suffered while playing rugby union in 1951 nearly derailed his selection for the 1952 Olympics. In Helsinki, apart from the 400m, he started in 200m and the 100m and 400m relays. This was the Olympics of stellar performances from Australians like the golden girls Marjorie Jackson, Shirley Strickland and Verna Johnston, John Treloar, 100m finalist, cyclists Lionel Cox and Russell Mockridge, rower Mervyn Wood and John Davies (200m breastroke).
After Helsinki, Eddie pulled back from major competition to focus on his studies. He graduated in 1954 to start a career as a general surgeon that spanned more than three decades. He gained surgical fellowships in England and Scotland (FRCS and FRCSE) and was a fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons. While in England he met pathologist Janet Davidson and they married in 1956.
He was Visiting Honorary Surgeon - Blacktown Hospital from 1965 to 1984. He operated for many years at the Ingleburn Army Base in south western Sydney and did a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1970, working at the Australian field hospital in Vung Tau. He was also an honorary Athletics NSW medical officer for decades.
Eddie attended annual meetings of the Kapyla Club, a reunion of the members of the 1952 Olympic team. The club, named after the Australian’s accommodation in the Helsinki Olympic village, has been a unique tradition of the Australian Olympic movement. It was a very proud Edwin Carr who, aged 72, took part in the torch relay through the streets of Cowra in the lead-up to the Sydney 2000 Olympics, surrounded by family and friends.
Eddie passed away in Cowra on 25 March 2018, aged 89.
Prepared by Ed Carr junior, son of Edwin Carr