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Pam Kilborn

Pam Kilborn

Pamela Kilborn-Ryan, AM, MBE (born 12 August 1939) is an Australian former athlete who set world records as a hurdler. For three years, she was ranked as the world's top woman hurdler.[1]

Pam Kilborn
Personal information
Full namePamela Kilborn-Ryan (-Nelson)
Born (1939-08-12) 12 August 1939
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Height5 ft 1+12 in (156 cm)
Weight115 lb (52 kg)
SportTrack & Field
Updated on 13 September 2015.

Kilborn was also an Olympic class sprinter, Long Jumper and pentathlete, and loved shot put, she also won a total of 17 individual Australian Championships between 1962 and 1972.[2]


Early career

Kilborn was born on 12 August 1939 in Melbourne.[3] She began competing in athletics there during the late 1950s. She competed for the University High School team, under coach Henri Schubert alongside her good friend Judy Amoore (later Pollock).[4]

In 1960 she attempted to gain selection for the 1960 Summer Olympics but could only place third in the Australian Championships with only the first two athletes chosen. She was reputedly so ill during these Championships that she had to be assisted on the medal dais.[4]

During 1961 her performances at both hurdles and long jump had improved substantially and she was ranked No. 4[1] and No. 10[5] in the world, respectively, at the end of the year.

International career

At the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, Western Australia, Kilborn became one of the stars of the Games, upsetting world-record holder Betty Moore in the 80 m hurdles race before winning the long jump contest ahead of two countrywomen Helen Frith (silver) and Janet Knee (bronze).[2]

Two years later, at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, she won the bronze medal behind Karin Balzer (gold) and Teresa Ciepły (silver) after having equalled the Olympic record in the semi-final.

Soon after the Games, on 5 October 1964, she equalled the World Record for 80 m Hurdles, running 10.5 in Tokyo. On 6 February 1965 in Melbourne, she bettered her record with a 10.4 time.[6]

At the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica she won gold medals in 80 m hurdles and 4x110 yards relay.[2]

In 1967 she broke Christine Perera's unofficial 100 m hurdles world record of 13.7 seconds and improved it twice up to 13.3 seconds in 1969.

Having been undefeated since the 1964 Olympics, Kilborn was the favourite for the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. At the Games she was hampered by a shoulder injury[7] and could not overcome her surprising teenage countrywoman Maureen Caird in the rain-affected final. She won silver in the 80 metre hurdles.[3]

In 1970 the international hurdling distance was extended to 100 metres and, competing at the British Commonwealth Games, she beat Caird to take yet another gold medal. Her three successive golds was the most ever won by any athlete at the Commonwealth Games. Earlier in the Games she was chosen to carry the Australian standard in the Opening Ceremony; the first time a woman had been awarded this honour.[8]

After a brief retirement, she returned to the track for one last Olympic campaign in 1972. She set a World Record of 12.5 (12.93 automatic timing) shortly before the 1972 Olympics in Munich, but could only run fourth in the Olympic final.


Kilborn was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1971 and a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2008.[9][10] She was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985 and received a Centenary Medal in 2001.[8]


National Records
Kilborn set multiple Australian records in seven different events[8] during her career: 80 metre hurdles, 100 metres hurdles, 200 metres hurdles, Long Jump, Pentathlon, 4 x 200 metres relay, and 4 x 220 yards relay.

World Records[6]

Over 80 metres hurdles, Kilborn set two official world records in 1964 and 1965.

In the 100 metres hurdles, she set one official world record at Warsaw on 28 June 1972.

At 200 m hurdles, Kilborn-Ryan set four official world records between 1969 and 1971, with a best of 25.7.

In team events, she set a world record for 4 x 220 yards relay of 1:35.8 in Brisbane on 9 November 1969, teaming with Raelene Boyle, Jenny Lamy and Marion Hoffman.

Personal Bests[4]

Event Time Wind Place Date
100 m11.50+0.6Mexico City, Mexico14 October 1968
80 m Hurdles10.4Melbourne6 February 1965
100 m Hurdles12.5+0.9Warsaw, Poland28 June 1972
200 m Hurdles25.7Melbourne25 November 1971
Long Jump6.24mMelbourne21 May 1966

World Rankings – Hurdles[1] and Long Jump[5]

Year Event Ranking
196180 m Hurdles4
Long Jump10
196280 m Hurdles2
Long Jump9
196380 m Hurdles1
196480 m Hurdles3
196580 m Hurdles1
196680 m Hurdles1
196780 m Hurdles1
196880 m Hurdles2
196980 m Hurdles2
1970100 m Hurdles4
1972100 m Hurdles4

Australian Championships Record[2] – prior to 1963 Championships were held every two years

Year 100 yds/metres 80 m Hurdles 100 m Hurdles 200 m Hurdles Long Jump Pentathlon


  1. "World Rankings by Nation – Women's 100 Hurdles" (PDF). Track and Field News. 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 September 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  2. "Historical Results – Pamela 'Pam' RYAN (Kilborn)". Athletics Australia. Archived from the original on 8 September 2007. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  3. "Pam Kilborn-Ryan". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  4. Thomas, Graham. "Track & Field Athletics Australia: Profile – Pam Kilborn-Ryan". Athletics Gold. Archived from the original on 27 October 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  5. "World Rankings by Nation – Women's Long Jump" (PDF). Track and Field News. 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  6. "Australian IAAF World Record Holders & World Best Performances". Athletics Australia. January 2008. Archived from the original on 28 December 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  7. "Hall of Fame: Maureen Caird Jones". Sport Australia. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  8. "Hall of Fame: Pam Ryan". Sport Australia. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  9. "KILBORN, Pamela, MBE". It's an Honour. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
  10. "Ryan, Pamela, AM". It's an Honour. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
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