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Early Interest in Athletics

Wells first remembers competing in athletics whilst at Byng Road Council School - participating  in inter-schools’ sports at the Barnet Playing Fields at the bottom of Barnet Hill, in Hertfordshire. The only events at that time were sprints, and Wells was usually able to win his age group.

In September 1939 Wells went to Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School for boys, in Barnet, and participated in the annual inter-house athletics, again initially, in short sprints. At some stage he switched to concentrating on high jump and hurdles, in which he represented his school at the County schools’ meeting in 1944, and then the Public Schools’ championships at the White City Stadium, in London. Queen Elizabeth’s had won the team event at those championships in 1939 and there was therefore quite a tradition of athletics at the school. This was probably due mainly to the enthusiasm and coaching of “Klue” (K.L. Woodland), the German language teacher.

He gave up hurdles when the height increased from 3 foot to 3 foot 3 inches, which didn't suit his running style.

Early on Wells was aware that he possessed considerable natural spring and was always being tempted to jump and touch over-hanging branches, feeling he could stay up there at the peak of the leap. His father had high jumped at school, and his older brother John had also done so before switching to javelin. In the school library there were two scrapbooks of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and Wells spent many hours poring over these and, in particular, the high jumping of the American, Harold Osborn, who was the “father” of the Western Roll technique.

Initially Wells practiced the scissors technique. It probably wasn’t until 1946 or 1947 that he tried  the Western Roll technique, which he later found out to be completely wrong. He also tried the Eastern Cut-Off favoured by Japanese jumpers, but felt you needed to be a contortionist to succeed, although this was the style that Arthur Gold, his future coach, employed. Once he came underthe guidance of Arthur Gold, he developed a more conventional style of the Western Roll