Published in the Australian Cycling Magazine
Titled "The Challenge" - Vol 3 - No 5 - August - September, 1973
Born Wilmington, South Australia 21.11.51, died Feldkirch, Austria 23.6.73 – Aged 21 years 7 months.
“Legsie” Jose is no more a cycling athlete. No more will we hear those sly quips in his gentle toned voice. Was he serious? Was he jovial? Or was he only “stirring?” Only his friends could tell and they were not always sure. No more will we see his hirsute face radiated by the questioning puckishness that was so typical of him. No more can we see those lanky legs thumping up and down – their power truly understood only by those endeavouring to match his speed.
Graeme Jose became Whyalla's most internationally famous son – its first Olympian – it's first national cycling champion and its No. 1 Sportsman. The 1968 Olympic trackmen gave him the necessary incentive when they trained in Whyalla for their pre-Games conditioning. He attended their lectures, he listened, he watched and he learnt. Paradoxically road cycling became his great love though he was no mean “trackie” and indeed he was the 1973 South Australian pursuit champion.
Yet Whyalla (50' above sea level) almost flat, hardly measures up as the ideal surroundings to develop a road champion. The nearest hills are near Quorn almost 70 miles away, the roads are “dead” and the winds unfriendly. But thrive he did. Somehow he managed to ride to Quorn for those energy sapping climbs. Somehow he tallied up hundreds and then thousands of miles. Professional rider John Murray fanned the flame. John's home revolves around bikes. He lives bikes, sleeps bikes, and talks bikes and his wonderful wife Pat puts up with bikes and bike riders. Into this environment stepped Graeme Jose. Here he was nurtured and here he was guided conscientiously and intelligently. John Murray become his friend and mentor and the combination proved very fruitful.
“Legsie” rode the 1971 Australian senior Road title around Sydney's Centennial Park. He thrilled the South Australian camp with his “flyer” at three laps to go and only the alertness of John Trevorrow and Dick Paris cost him that title. This was a taste of the Jose style for he was the least distressed of all the finishers and might easily have ridden the course again. Graeme paid me a treasured compliment when he wrote and asked guidance to prepare for the Munich Games Selection tests. My answer was for him to repeat whatever he did in 1971 for he had obviously found a suitable method of his own.
The rest is history but who can forget his bridging ride to catch his great friend “Blackie” Don Allan in Brisbane. He was modest in victory and was truly surprised at the Munich Team announcement. Those pre-Games training times in Victoria enhanced his abilities and his reputation. He made friends, he was accepted, he was feared in competition, and he proved himself a top class road cyclist.
It was my privilege to become very closely associated with Graeme. We shared together all those pre-embarkation obligations. The medicals, the public appearances, the farewells and the travel. I helped him and he reciprocated. He built a bridge of communication to other team members. Then came those wonderful Munich days. Everyone worked hard there and raced even harder. Nobody was more diligent than Graeme Jose and his three second places and one third placing in pre-Games international events reflect his efforts. His final lap in the Games road race was tremendous.
I know I speak for all the Olympic team when I say we loved and respected him. His decision to travel again to Europe this year was a momentous one and it was his own. It did not come easy and meant postponing his engineering studies. It cost him his job and ultimately his life. What a tragic blow to his family, his club, his town, his State, his country and to his sport. What sadness for a life to be extinguished with such wonderful prospects unfulfilled.
We who mourn him extend our heartfelt sympathy to his family, but what can we say to lessen their loss. We grieve with them and perhaps this sharing of sadness will bring solace to them. Cycling in Whyalla, in South Australia, and in Australia has suffered a great and irreplaceable loss.
The Graeme Jose record is outstanding: Who can believe that his two Amateur Sport Club Memorial Medal awards, his Lindy award, his Caltex Sport award, his State and National titles, his Olympic selection took a mere 18 months to acquire. His racing record is too long and involved to repeat but he will never lose his hard won championships for he died South Australian and Australian senior road champion – doing what he loved while representing the country he loved.
Farewell mate, we are all proud of you, and I hope we are all good enough to meet you again.
Thank you, to Paul Smyth, who provided the obituary, written by Ron O'Donnell that was excerpted from the Australian Cycling Magazine, 1973.
This photograph shows Graeme Jose winning the Australian Road Cycling Championship in Brisbane March 1972,
gaining his selection to the Australian cycling team for the 1972 Munich Olympics.