|Edna Sayers. ca 1930's. Image number 100344. Courtesy Lyn Jackson|
Edna Sayers was 15 when her mother passed away. Edna stayed at home to look after her five younger siblings, the youngest being 6 years. She took up cycling when in her early 20s, and loved it as a release from her domestic responsibilities. Later she worked at the Woollen Mills in Marrickville, and loved having a paid job outside the house.
Edna Sayers lived in Morgan Street, Earlwood all her life until she moved to Budgewoi in her sixties. Edna established a women's cycling club in Budgewoi, and took the members touring.
Edna Sayers trained with the Earlwood Cycling Club every Monday night. She rode the Goulburn-Sydney race three times, but had to ride behind the men. Her times were better than many of the men in this race. She was associated with the Earlwood Cycling Club but, as a woman, was not allowed to be a member or to compete against the men. There were no women's clubs or races at that time.
Edna rode at the Canterbury Velodrome at Charles Street, Canterbury. Canterbury Velodrome had a wooden track and Edna had many splinters to show for it. It was an important cycling venue at a time when cycling was a hugely popular sport. Both amateur and professional races were held there to sell out crowds on weekends. Edna also rode at Henson Park, Marrickville.
A New Zealand woman challenged Sydney women to a walking race from Liverpool to Sydney. The race was held on Saturday 8th April 1933 and Edna was one of the thirteen competitors who took up the challenge. By the time they reached Burwood, Edna was in the lead. It was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday 10th April 1933 that it was won by Edna Sayers of Earlwood in 4 hours 2 minutes.
The family walked to Brighton a couple of times.
Edna Sayers held three records in 1936
The country roads were tarred with a hump in the middle, and the sides often got rough, they were a hard ride in those days.
Edna Sayer's father Alfred George Sayers was also a cyclist. Edna's sister Selina was married to Stan Murphy, who was also a cyclist, who rode for the Lakemba cycling club.
Selina was a runner, and so was Edna. Both competed for the Western Suburbs Athletics Club. Selina was also an acrobat, and her youngest sister Nellie was a contortionist. They performed at private functions.
Ednas's sister Olive, known as Billie, was married to Joseph Henry, known as Harry, Worthington, a cyclist with the Dulwich Hill Cycle Club. Harry Worthington turned professional at the age of 18. Olive and Harry owned a bicycle shop on Canterbury Road (later Earlwood) and Billie was chief wheel builder. The bicycle shop opened at Earlwood in about 1946 and was on the corner of William Street and Hartill-Law Avenue (right at the top of Hartill-Law Avenue on the right when looking down the hill). They later moved to Cooma where they were the tandem cycle champions for some years.
Their mother Elizabeth Mary was a well-known soprano in England, where she performed opera. She suffered from bronchial problems, and they moved to Australia for her health in about 1911, but it did not help, and she died from pneumonia in 1927.
Canterbury City Council unveiled a plaque acknowledging Edna Sayers' sporting achievements in the first series of its Path of Sporting Champions - Local Sporting Identities Plaques Recognition Program.
Edna Sayers' plaque reads:
Edna Sayers 1912-1996 Cycling
Edna held three NSW Women's Individual Unpaced Records for long distance rides in 1936, and was reputed to have achieved better times than many men in the Goulburn-Sydney race. In those days before women's cycling was an established sport, Edna trained and rode with Earlwood Cycling Club, probably on an unofficial basis. She lived in Earlwood.
The above is the text for the plaque about Edna. According to Selina Murphy, Edna rode with Earlwood Club, but Harry Worthington said it was the Belmore Club.
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