MOIRA WALLS MAGUIRE

Moira Lindsay Walls, b. Glasgow, 4 May 1952. Clubs: Western AAC, Edinburgh Southern Harriers. Talented athlete across high jump, long jump and pentathlon, whose career spanned 20 years.

As a schoolgirl at Bearsden Academy, the 15-year-old Moira Walls set a Scottish national high jump record of 5 foot 4 inches (1.63 metres) in 1967. 18 years later, she retired with a Scottish record of 1.87 metres, a performance that still ranked within the top five high jumpers in Scotland over 30 years later, after a career that saw her lift 9 Scottish titles at high jump, hurdles, long jump and pentathlon, gain 19 British internationals and a Commonwealth bronze medal.

 

Scottish high jumping was at a pretty mediocre level when Moira Walls jumped 5’ 4” (1.63) at the East v West match at Grangemouth in June 1967. Her record was not to last long as Ruth Watt, only two years older at 17, added half an inch to her performance at the same venue two months later. These two athletes were to become the greatest of rivals in the coming year with no less than 19 further improvements to the Scottish record, 8 by Watt and 11 by Walls (later Maguire) in the period to 1980, with Walls being the first Scot to go past the landmark 6-foot height in 1977, eventually taking the record from its lowly start to 1.87/6’ 1½”.

 

In her first senior season in 1969, she set new Scottish records at high jump (1.73), long jump (6.36) and pentathlon (4,591 points), won four titles at both the national and the schools championships at these events plus the hurdles, won the British pentathlon title, and, at international level, she was outstanding – 2nd for GB v USA and v France; first against West Germany, and then beating the Olympic long jump champion and world record holder Viorica Viscopoleanu when representing Britain against Rumania in a senior international at Crystal Palace, with a British  age-17 best of 6.36 in a series that read 6.09, 6.33, 6.21, 6.36, 6.24, 6.30, 5 of her jumps bettering or equalling the Rumanian’s 6.21. Her performances saw her selected for the British team at the European Championships in Athens, finishing 9th in the long jump but being eliminated in the qualifying for the high jump.

 

1970 saw the Commonwealth Games on home territory in Edinburgh, and Walls was in contention for medals in the high jump, long jump and pentathlon. She had a great start to the year, long jumping a windy 6.48 for 1st against the Netherlands in The Hague, but suffered from an Achilles tendon injury which hampered her form and saw her lose her Scottish title to Alix Stevenson. At the Games, she had a hectic schedule with the pentathlon on 21-22 July, the long jump on the 23rd and the high jump on the 25th. She started the pentathlon with a windy best of 14.05 in the hurdles but was well down the field after her weakest event, the shot. She finished day 1 with a solid 1.69 in the high jump to be 6th overnight, 118 points off the bronze-medal position. The following day, she set a national record of 6.39 with her first jump in the long jump, taking her through the field into 3rd place, but her 200 metres wasn’t strong – she tailed in 5th in heat 1, 0.7 seconds behind the Canadian, Jenny Meldrum. That was the equivalent of 63 points, enough for Meldrum to beat her for the bronze medal by just 32 points. Moira’s score of 4,704 was a national record. It was agonising in the long jump as well, where she could not match the 6.39 pentathlon effort, which would have won the bronze medal. Instead, her 6.20 first round jump placed her 5th, one place behind fellow-Scot Alix Stevenson. In the high jump, she cleared 1.57 and 1.62, but a first-time failure at 1.67 put her in a worse position than any of the other 3 jumpers to clear the height. With Jamaica’s Audrey Reid having 3 failures at 1.70, Moira cleared the height on her last attempt to take the bronze medal behind the Canadian Debbie Brill (1.78) and England’s Anne Wilson (1.70). She remains the only Scottish woman to have collected a medal in the jumps events.

Moira (right) with 1970 Commonwealth Games gold medal winner Debbie Brill of Canada and runner-up Ann Wilson, England
Moira (right) with 1970 Commonwealth Games gold medal winner Debbie Brill of Canada and runner-up Ann Wilson, England

Later that year, she was selected for the British team for the European Junior Championships in Paris. With all her favourite events scheduled on the same day, Moira had to settle for just the long jump. Aided by the wind (+4.5), she started with a promising 6.26, leading by 8cm going into round 3. But then the wind became even stronger and the Czech girl, Jarmila Nygrynova rode a gust of 8.6 metres to land in the pit at 6.27, taking the title by just one centimetre. Walls went on to finish the season with a 6.43 jump at Bucharest, never ratified as a record because of the absence of a wind reading (and only legally bettered by Jade Nimmo’s 6.47 in 2012), and 6.36 for GB Juniors v West Germany at Leicester.

 

After a three year absence, Moira returned in 1975, having changed her high jump technique from the straddle to the flop, to equal Ruth Watt’s high jump record of 1.80 when helping her new club, Edinburgh Southern Harriers, to success in the Pye Gold Cup.  She raised this to 1.82 in 1976, qualifying for the Montreal Olympics where she was unfortunately affected by illness and eliminated in the qualifying. In 1977, she added another 1cm to her national record (1.83), topped the long jump rankings with 6.36, and set a new national record in the pentathlon of 4,277 – under new scoring tables, her 1970 Commonwealth mark had been converted to 4,123.

 

1979 saw her set personal bests in the hurdles (a legal 14.06), pentathlon (4,304) and high jump, in which her 1.86 constituted a national, native and all-comers’ record. Now married to high jumper/decathlete Kevin Maguire, she improved the National and Native mark in 1980 to 1.87 which still ranks her second to Jayne Barnetson all-time. Daughters Lindsey and Kirsty were born in 1982 and 1983 and Moira’s long and influential career came to a halt at the end of 1985, still ranking highly with a 1.80 jump for 3rd in the Scottish rankings.

 

Younger daughter Kirsty showed the same aptitude at getting off the ground as her mother, becoming the Scottish pole vault record holder. Lindsey also emulated her mother by competing at the Olympic Games, gaining selection in the Rowing event at London in 2012. In 2011, Moira became Chair of Scottish Athletics’ Track & Field Commission, stepping down in 2019.

PERSONAL BESTS
Event Performance Place Date
100m Hurdles 14.06 Dresden, Germany 1 September 1979
  14.05w Meadowbank, Edinburgh 21 July 1970
High jump 1.87 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 11 May 1980
Long jump 6.39 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 22 July 1970
  6.48w The Hague, Netherlands 17 May 1970
Pentathlon 4,309 Dresden, Germany 1 September 1979
CAREER PROGRESSION
Year Perf Year Perf Year Perf
100 METRES HURDLES
1968 16.4 1969 14.5 1970 14.3/14.0w
1971 14.6/14.5w 1976 15.3 1977 14.15/14.1w
1978 14.34/14.2w 1979 14.06 1980 14.46
HIGH JUMP
1966 1.45 1967 1.62 1968 1.67
1969 1.73 1970 1.70 1971 1.68
1972 1.57  1973 1.52 1975 1.80
1976 1.82 1977 1.83 1978 1.79
1979 1.86 1980 1.87 1981 1.71
1982 1.78 1984 1.83 1985 1.80
LONG JUMP
1967 5.47 1968 5.68 1969 6.36
1970 6.39/6.43w?/ 6.48w 1971 6.13 1976 5.97
1977 6.36 1978 6.17 1979 6.18
1980 5.72        
PENTATHLON (1971 TABLES)
1967 3,347 1968 3,568 1969 4,021
1970 4,112 1971 4,021 1976 3,948
1977 4,227 1978 3,745 1979 4,304
1980 4,139 1982 3,377    
HONOURS
Event Perf Place Date
COMMONWEALTH GAMES
BRONZE MEDAL
High jump 1.70 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 1970
EUROPEAN JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
SILVER MEDAL
Long jump 6.26 w Paris, France 1970
WAAA/UK CHAMPIONSHIPS
GOLD MEDALS (1)
Pentathlon 4,591 (1954 tables) Birmingham 1969
SILVER MEDALS (4)
High jump (WAAA) 1.76 Crystal Palace, London 1976
High jump (UK) 1.78 Cwmbran 1977
High jump (UK) 1.78 Birmingham 1979
High jump (WAAA) 1.82 Crystal Palace, London 1980
BRONZE MEDALS (2)
High jump (WAAA) 1.68 Crystal Palace, London 1970
High jump (WAAA) 1.76 Crystal Palace, London 1977
SCOTTISH CHAMPIONSHIPS
GOLD MEDALS (9)
100m Hurdles 14.6w Grangemouth 1969
High jump 1.67 Grangemouth 1969
Long jump 6.36w Grangemouth 1969
Pentathlon 4,452 Scotstoun, Glasgow 1969
High jump 1.67 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 1970
Pentathlon 4,353 Scotstoun, Glasgow 1970
High jump 1.73 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 1975
Pentathlon 3,927 Grangemouth 1977
High jump 1.82 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 1984
SILVER MEDALS (3)
Long jump 6.21 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 1970
Long jump 5.81 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 1971
High jump 1.73 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 1982
BRONZE MEDALS (1)
High jump 1.70 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 1980
INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Year Event Pos Perf Place
OLYMPIC GAMES
1976 High jump 31 1.70 Montreal (CAN)
EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
1969 High jump 22 q 1.65 Athens (GRE)
  Long jump  9 6.16 Athens (GRE)
COMMONWEALTH GAMES
1970 High jump 3 1.70 Edinburgh (SCO)
  Long jump  5 6.20 Edinburgh (SCO)
  Pentathlon  4 4,704 Edinburgh (SCO)
EUROPEAN JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
1970 Long jump 2 6.26w Paris (FRA)
GREAT BRITAIN & NORTHERN IRELAND INTERNATIONAL APPEARANCES (19)
Year Opponents Events Pos Performance
1969 France Long jump 2 6.22
1969 USA Long jump 2 6.28
1969 European Champs High jump 22q 1.65
    Long jump 9 6.16
1969 West Germany Long jump 1 6.23
1969  Romania  Long jump 1 6.36
1970 Netherlands Long jump 1 6.48w
1970 Rumania/Hungary High jump 6 1.67
    Long jump 2 6.43
1971 Belgium/Netherlands Pentathlon 3 4,021
1976 Netherlands High jump 3 1.75
1976 USSR High jump 4 1.75
1976 Olympic Games High jump 31q 1.70
1977  Spain/Denmark/Italy  Pentathlon 2 4,029
1977 European Cup (sf) Pentathlon 5 4,121
1977  USSR  High jump 3 1.73
1977 European Cup (f) Pentathlon 8 4,227
1978  Denmark/Netherlands  Pentathlon - DNF
1979 European Cup (sf) Pentathlon 7 4,170
1979 European Cup (f) Pentathlon 14 4,304
1979  USSR  High jump 1 1.86
B INTERNATIONAL
1977 France High jump 2 1.78
    Long jump 1 6.36
RECORDS
Event Perf Place Date Until
BRITISH RECORDS
High jump 1.87 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 11 May 1980 17 May 1980 
SCOTTISH NATIONAL RECORDS
High jump 1.62 Grangemouth 3 June 1967 6 August 1967 
  1.66 Scotstoun, Glasgow 12 June 1968 8 June 1969 
  1.70 Grangemouth 8 June 1969 12 July 1969 
  1.73 Duns 12 July 1969 17 July 1971 
  1.82 Crystal Palace, London 12 June 1976 7 August 1977 
  1.83 Kirkby 7 August 1977 17 June 1979 
  1.84 Grangemouth 17 June 1979 16 Sept 1979 
  1.86 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 16 Sept 1979 11 May 1980 
  1.86 Crystal Palace, London 22 Sept 1979 11 May 1980 
  1.87 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 11 May 1980 3 August 1985 
Long jump  6.28 White City, London 13 August 1969 8 October 1969 
  6.36 Crystal Palace, London 8 October 1969 22 July 1970 
  6.39 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 22 July 1970 27 May 1973 
Pentathlon  4,241 a Nethercraigs, Glasgow 14 June 1969 2 August 1969 
 (a - 1954 tables)  4,591 a Birmingham 2 August 1969 22 July 1970 
 (b - 1971 tables)  4,704 a Meadowbank, Edinburgh 22 July 1970 14 May 1977 
  3,927 b Grangemouth 14 May 1977 20 June 1977 
  4,029 b Madrid, Spain 20 June 1977 31 July 1977 
  4,121 b Sittard, Netherlands 31 July 1977  17 Sept 1977 
  4,227 b Lille, France 17 Sept 1977 16 June 1979 
  4,233 b Birmingham 16 June 1979 1 Sept 1979 
  4,309 b Dresden, Germany 1 Sept 1979 discontinued 
SCOTTISH NATIVE RECORDS
High jump 1.62 Grangemouth 3 June 1967 6 August 1967 
  1.66 Scotstoun, Glasgow 12 June 1968 8 June 1969 
  1.70 Grangemouth 8 June 1969 12 July 1969 
  1.73 Duns 12 July 1969 18 August 1973 
  1.81 Coatbridge 3 Sept 1977 17 June 1979 
  1.84 Grangemouth 17 June 1979 16 Sept 1979 
  1.86 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 16 Sept 1979  11 May 1980 
  1.87 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 11 May 1980 7 July 1989 
Long jump  6.11 Grangemouth 25 April 1970 6 June 1970 
  6.39 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 22 July 1970 27 May 1973 
Pentathlon 4,036 a Grangemouth 22 Sept 1968 14 June 1969 
  4,241 a Nethercraigs, Glasgow 14 June 1969 30 August 1969 
  4,452 a Scotstoun, Glasgow 30 August 1969 22 July 1970 
  4,704 a Meadowbank, Edinburgh 22 July 1970 14 May 1977 
  3,927 b Grangemouth 14 May 1977 discontinued 
SCOTTISH ALL-COMERS' RECORDS
High jump 1.73 Duns 12 July 1969 25 July 1970 
  1.86 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 16 Sept 1979 11 May 1980 
  1.87 Meadowbank, Edinburgh 11 May 1980 23 August 1980 
Long jump 6.11 Grangemouth 25 April 1970 6 June 1970 
Pentathlon 4,452 a Scotstoun, Glasgow 30 August 1969 22 July 1970 
  3,927 b Grangemouth 14 May 1977  discontinued 

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