While competing for UBC, Cuttell was acknowledged by many to be Canada's best all-round track and field man, a three-time Canadian champion in both the long jump and high jump and a winner of five Canada West golds in these, his two specialties. This 1972 Olympian who once won medals in six different events at the CanWest Championships, is one of the few to jump seven feet and while at UBC recorded a 7.66m mark in the long jump.
In 1971 Rick Cuttell, a John Oliver high school graduate, marked the start of his UBC career winning the Western Canadian University high jump championship with a Western Canadian record of 6’10”. At this same meet the T-Bird newcomer also set a Western university record in the long jump winning this event with a mark of 22’6”. UBC Coach Lionel Pugh was blessed in having on his team his high jump protégée, who earlier in ’71 had been crowned the B.C. Open high jump champion and in 1970 had been a member of Canada’s team at the British Commonwealth Games.
The next season, 1972, was big for Cuttell as he led UBC men to the Canada West title in Saskatoon (where UBC beat out seven other schools) winning the Canada West high jump and long jump championships, the latter with a leap of 24’1”. This long jump mark was the best by a Canadian that year. That night Cuttell left Saskatoon and the next day in Vancouver proceeded to win the Achilles Meet high jump championship, setting a new meet record with a jump of 7’1 1/4”. To win this title he had defeated his highly rated UBC teammate John Hawkins as well as Olympic gold medalist Dick Fosbury. Cuttell was now in select company as he had become only the second Canadian to clear seven feet.
During the summer of ’72 Cuttell would join a group of seven elite UBC athletes together with coach Pugh on Canada’s Olympic track and field team.
In November 1972 Cuttell took the gold at a University of Manitoba meet with a jump of 7’ 3/8”. By now only four Canadians in track history had jumped over seven feet and three of them, Cuttell, Hawkins and John Beers, were in their self-imposed exile at UBC, punishing themselves into a superb condition under the watchful eye of their UBC coach Pugh.
The next year at the ’73 Canada West championships, Cuttell finished second in the high jump, second in the long jump and third in the 50 metre sprint. Despite his versatility and the fact he was among Canada’s elite 7 foot high jumpers it was the mark of 7.66 metres he recorded in the long jump at a 1973 meet in Modesto, California that is still considered the best ever by a Canadian university athlete. The official CIS record (recorded since 1980 after Cuttell’s time) is as of 2005, 7.64 metres. Cuttell’s mark of 7.66 would for Canadian university athletes appear to stand unbroken.
In 1974 again competing for UBC at the Canada West Championships, Cuttell finished third in the high jump and second in the long jump.
The year 1975 for this Physical Education student was another memorable one. Not only would he lead his UBC team to the Canada West track and field championship but he displayed incredible versatility. At this meet he won the long jump gold, the high jump silver, and the triple jump bronze. He also finished second in the 50 meter hurdles, helped set a record with a gold medal performance with UBC’s 4 x 100 meter relay team, captured a silver medal with the UBC 4 x 400 meter relay team and finally, finished fourth in the 50 metre sprint. Cuttell’s awesome six medal performance this day easily won him the Canada West individual men’s championship, with UBC winning the over-all team title. It was apparent that Rick was not only recognized as a jumper but was also becoming one of UBC’s best at the short sprints.
At the ’75 Pan American Games Cuttell was third best in the Americas winning bronze in the high jump. By the end of ’75 he added to his season’s accomplishments another B.C. Open high jump championship, a Canadian high jump championship (2.21 metres) and a Canadian long jump championship. These national achievements were recognized by Sport B.C. as the 1975 British Columbia University Athlete of the Year.
At a 1976 Canada West competition, Cuttell again won long jump gold with a mark of 7.34 metres. Of the ten best long jumps in Canada West history, three of them are recorded by Cuttell the only UBC athlete in this top ten list.
One of B.C.’s most versatile athletes, Cuttell as a Thunderbird won five Canada West gold medals in his two specialties while being instrumental in two Canada West championships for UBC. While the 1978 BPE graduate was competing for UBC he was acknowledged by many to be Canada’s best all-around track and field man, a three-time Canadian champion in both long jump and high jump, a university record holder, international medal winner and Olympian.
Researched and written by Fred Hume, UBC Athletics Historian