FOLLOW ME: Newspaper photo of consummate outdoorsman Vic Summers, announcing that he would help Gympie people survive in the bush if they had to flee the Japanese in the Second World War.
FOLLOW ME: Newspaper photo of consummate outdoorsman Vic Summers, announcing that he would help Gympie people survive in the bush if they had to flee the Japanese in the Second World War.

We recall Gympie's 'uncanny axeman'

ARGUABLY our greatest athlete, Vic Summers was probably never as famous as he deserved to be.

A world wood chop champion eight times in a row, he would have made it 14 times if the Second World War had not stolen six years of his prime.

But his former contest partner Max Krogh says the Summers legend would never die.

Especially he is remembered at Gympie Show time, where Summers taught Mr Krogh some of his competitive art.

"If he'd been a cricketer they'd have named streets after him," Mr Krogh said.

"He chopped in front of the Queen (during her first royal visit to Australia in 1954) and she presented him with a commemorative axehead, which remains on display at the Latrobe Axeman's Hall of Fame in Tasmania.

"He was a runner too. They'd put him on handicap and give him an extra 150 yards to run and he'd still win.

"He used to enter bike races and they would call the race off after he lapped everyone. They'd just say, 'Why bother continuing?'.

"I was 14 years old in 1949 and he took me under his wing - asked me to chop with him.

"He'd be with all the older blokes and he'd come and chop with us kids to show us how.

"He was just a great bloke and a top athlete."

Tough, self-reliant, kind to strangers and a world champion for much of his life, Mr Krogh recalls: "Vic was in his 70s when he competed in Perth, driving all the way there and back.

"He was 90 miles out of Birdsville and there was a young couple with a child and a caravan.

"They'd blown two tyres. He drove the tyres into town, got them fixed and helped fix the van.

"He didn't take a single dollar. He wouldn't.

"That's what kind of man he was."

Summers died in Gympie at age 96, just before show time two years ago.

"Like most champions, he had a performance diet that helped him win.

"I'll tell you his secret," Mr Krogh said, "half a teaspoon of cod liver oil every morning and a nip of rum at 4pm."

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