Dixie Ingram (nee Willis)
Born Fremantle WA
13 November 1941
Triumph and tragedy went hand-in-hand in the career of Dixie Willis, one of Western Australia’s most brilliant runners. At the WA women’s track and field championships on the grass track at Leederville Oval, in March 1962, the triumph came quickly. Two world records were achieved as she won the 880yds title in 2min 2sec and, on the way, beat the world 800m time when clocked 2min 1.2sec. In those two events she beat the New Zealand champion, Marise Chamberlain, and in November of that year she continued her supremacy by beating her to take the 880yds gold medal at the Perth Commonwealth Games. Those performances made 1962 a big year in a track career that began in 1958 when she first won the State 880yds title.
Two years later Dixie Willis graduated into national prominence by winning the 440yds and 880yds titles at the Australian championships in Hobart, earning a place in the team heading for the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. In Rome, she won her heat of the 800m in an Olympic record time of 2min 5.9sec. The following day, in the final, she stumbled and fell 100m from the finish while leading the field.
She began her preparation for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics by winning the Australian 440yds and 880yds titles, a feat she had also achieved in 1960 and 1962, to confirm her dominance at a time when national women’s championships were held at intervals of two years. But Tokyo was also to add to the tragic side of her career. She became ill while at the Games and was unable to compete in her events, a sad occurence that heralded her retirement from senior athletics.