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Charmain Welsh

Biographical information

TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
SexFemale
Full nameCharmain Isobel•Welsh (-Rawlings)
Used nameCharmain•Welsh
Born17 May 1937 in Easington, County Durham, England (GBR)
NOC Great Britain

Biography

In today’s world of competitive sport, athletes have the very best of training facilities, but for diver Charmian Welsh she did her training in an open-air swimming pool known locally as Dawdon pit pond, near Seaham Harbour, Co. Durham, and the thick black mud at the bottom of it stemmed from its close proximity to the local coalmine. Her father, a former junior rugby international, was a local colliery manager and wanted her daughter to have better coaching in the United States, but it was not part of the ASA agenda so she continued training at Dawdon. But it paid dividends.

A student at Durham High School she did not start swimming until the age of 11 but two years later was a Durham and Northumberland ladies champion. Having won swimming and diving trophies she turned her attention to diving and qualified for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. She was just two months beyond her 15th birthday when she arrived in Finland, the first time she had ever been outside Great Britain, and she defied her years by finishing fifth in the springboard event. Welsh competed in her second Olympics at Melbourne fours years later but finished well down the field in both diving events. However, her moment of glory was to come at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff in 1958. Having placed fourth in the springboard four years earlier, she became a double gold medallist in Cardiff winning both the springboard and platform events. Less than two months later she won the springboard silver medal in the European Championships at Budapest. She was expected to appear in her third Olympics at Rome in 1960 but she surprisingly quit diving in 1959 because she felt there was too much “politics” within the sport

Welsh also represented Durham at both fencing and shooting and later became a teacher. Sadly, Welsh was widowed when her husband Peter, along with her only daughter, and fiancé, were killed in a car crash. Well into her 70s Charmian continued to coach young divers in Durham and in 2013 was honoured with a lifetime achievement award by British Swimming for Outstanding Contribution at Club Level. Regarding the spelling of her very rare forename, she said in 2008: “I’ve only come across five or six people in my life who’ve shared it. Cleopatra had a handmaiden called Charmian. Perhaps my parents knew their Shakespeare?”

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1952 Summer Olympics Diving (Aquatics) GBR Charmain Welsh
Springboard, Women (Olympic) 5
1956 Summer Olympics Diving (Aquatics) GBR Charmain Welsh
Springboard, Women (Olympic) 14
Platform, Women (Olympic) 12

Special Notes