Former Welsh Long Jump Record Holder Gill Regan dies
Picture caption: Former Welsh Javelin record holder Jackie Zaslona, Gill Regan and Gwyn Williams.
The Welsh athletics fraternity will be sad to learn of the death of former Welsh long jump record holder Gill Regan who died yesterday, December 5th after a short illness.
She held the record with 6.52m for a remarkable 35 years until it was narrowly beaten by Cardiff teammate Rebecca Chapman in 2017 - who jumped 6.54m. She won the Welsh title nine times, a record which still stands and competed in the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games.
Clive Williams looks back on the competitive career of one of Wales’s finest athletes:
She was well respected throughout both the athletics world and in her role within the NHS. Gwyn Williams, her long-time coach and also a British international long-jumper described Gill as a joy to coach. Said Gwyn; “This has come as a tremendous shock. We were very close and had kept in touch since her competitive days ended in 1986.” Gwyn went on: “Gill was a very disciplined and focussed athlete and was a coaches’ dream. I clearly remember the day in the old Morfa Stadium in Swansea in 1982 when she jumped her Welsh record 6.52m.”
“The conditions were far from ideal with rain falling and in better conditions she would have jumped much further”, Gwyn continued. That jump stood as the Welsh record for a remarkable 35 years until beaten by Cardiff teammate Rebecca Chapman 4 years ago with 6.54m.
That 6.52 leap ranked Gill second in the UK in 1982, and the 8th best ever by a British athlete at the time. Only Bev Kinch jumped further in 1982 and Kinch went on to hold the UK record for 29 years. That’s how good Gill was. In 1982, to confirm her status as one of Britain’s best, Gill finished second in the UK championships to Kinch at Cwmbran jumping 6.33m. 1982 was her best year as she also represented Britain on four occasions, including matches against East and West Germany – the former being the dominant force in World athletics at the time. That performance in Swansea also caught the eye of the Welsh selectors and she duly formed part of the Welsh team for the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane where she reached the final. She also competed in the 1986 Games in Edinburgh, again reaching the final.
She got very close to her best when winning for Wales in their match against Catalonia in Barcelona in 1986 where she jumped a windy 6.51 to rank fourth in the UK that year. That turned out to be her last competitive year, so she went out with a bang. She took nine Welsh senior titles in her career and the under 17 title in 1973. She was the UK’s best under 17 long jumper that year winning both the indoor and outdoor UK titles and setting a UK record for her age group of 5.71m when taking the indoor title at Cosford. Her nine Welsh long jump titles remain a record to this day.
On the UK stage she competed for Britain no less than 15 times, a clear indication of her status as one of Britain’s foremost long jumpers. Gill was also a committed Cardiff club member and was ladies captain between 1978 and 1980 and again in 1986. She particularly liked taking part in relay events – both for club and Wales. She was a fine sprinter and had a 100m personal best of 12.0. When her competitive days were over she continued her involvement in the sport and was a keep-fit fanatic and this went in-line with her occupation as a dietician. She worked for the NHS at The Royal Gwent Hospital for 40 years and attended the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympic Games as dietary advisor to the British team. Gill maintained her fitness levels after retiring from competitive athletics taking part in many fun runs and charity events. This culminated in her taking part in both the London and New York marathons.
She managed several Welsh athletics teams and coached at her Cardiff club.
Welsh athletics – and indeed British athletics - are saddened by her death and the sport has lost an outstanding athlete and a person who dedicated her life to fitness and health.
- The funeral takes place on 23rd December at St. Bridgid’s Catholic Church Llanishen at 11.00 and afterwards at Thornhill Crematorium.