Date of Birth
15 June 1943
Place of Birth
19 October 2003
Colin Birmingham was renowned as much for his coaching prowess as he was for his feats as an athlete in the sport of water skiing. As a junior sportsman Col was a star tennis player captaining the Queensland team in 1956 and 57 to the Interstate Championships. His transition into water skiing was met with immediate success. He began an 11 year span representing Queensland from 1959 -1969 and from 1961 on, he broke and held every Queensland record available.
Following in the footsteps of fellow Gold Coaster and good mate Wally Morris, Col took over the mantle of Australian Champion in 1962. In fact 1962 was a highlight when Col won all four disciplines (slalom, jump, ticks, overall) at the Moomba Maters - a feat that has been repeated since. Birmingham won a further 4 Australian titles in 1964, '65, '67, '69.
Before he had even achieved his first open Australian Championship, Col packed his bags for the 1961 World Titles in Longbeach California. As an 18 year old, not much was expected from this bright new prospect but results were delivered. Birmingham tied second place for the World Slalom Championship with Wally Morris. It would be his most successful of four attempts at World Championship glory.
Birmingham also shared his wealth of knowledge and experiences in the sport through coaching. Ironically he even coached some of his competitors and in total he trained 9 National and 2 World Champions.
Col Birmingham's talents a water skier were significant at a time when the Gold Coast was trying to promote itself onto the tourism map domestically and on the international stage. His part in the Keith Williams run Surfers Paradise Ski Gardens and later Seaworld ski shows was at a time when the concept of theme parks was being borne in America. Surfers Paradise Ski Gardens was the Gold Coast's first theme park.
The promotion of the Gold Coast was bolstered by the touring water ski shows which travelled Australia in 1964, 1965 and starred both Col and Wally.
Keith Williams also bid for and consequently won the rights to host the World Championships for Water Skiing in 1965. This event was for the first time, held outside of Europe and the United States of America and would be the first of many Gold Coast events to be televised to the world and so showcase our beautiful city to the international tourism market. Birmingham placed just off the podium in fourth at these championships.
Not only was Col Birmingham a true sporting champion competing and performing in his sport but he was also an important ambassador putting the Gold Coast on the tourism map in the 1960's.