Fraser, Rose named Australia’s greatest Olympians of all time

They were named before the biggest gathering of Australian Olympians, at a gala dinner at the Regent Hotel.

Both Miss Fraser, 47, and Mr. Rose, 44, began their assault on Olympic gold medals at the 1956 Games in Melbourne. They won two each.

Last night’s presentation followed an Australia-wide vote by Olympians organized by the Victorian Olympians Club.

Miss Fraser took the female honor from three other nominees, athletes Shirley Strickland and Betty Cuthbert, and swimmer Shane Gould. Miss Cuthbert, who won three gold medals on the MCG track in 1956 and another one eight years later in Tokyo, was too ill to attend last night’s dinner. Miss Gould who won all her Olympic medals, three gold, a silver and a bronze, at the Munich Olympics in 1972, has a young baby and did not come from Western Australia for the dinner.

Australian swimmers Murray Rose and Dawn Fraser, both world record holders, gather with the team prior to their departure to Perth for the 1962 Commonwealth Games.Credit:SMH Archives

Miss Fraser, now a hotelkeeper in Sydney, is the only swimmer to have won gold medals in the same event at three successive Olympics. She won the 100-metre freestyle in Melbourne (1956), Rome (1960) and Tokyo (1964). Her Olympic medal tally was four gold and four silver before she was suspended for 10 years by the Australian Swimming Union for her adventurous spirit at the Tokyo Games.

Mr. Rose, who travelled from Los Angeles to be at last night’s dinner, won four gold, a silver and a bronze at Olympic appearances in Melbourne and Rome.

Miss Fraser, thanking her fellow Olympians, said: “I suppose when I was a little girls swimming in Balmain Pool I never thought I would ever be here tonight amongst the greatest people I have met in my life. I thank you for being my friends.”

Mr. Rose, explaining what the trophy meant to him, said: “A couple of years ago I lost my swimming trophies in a fire in my mother’s house, and this little beauty makes up for all that loss, and this one I keep in my house.”

Although Mr. Rose has lived in America for the past 25, years he retains his Australian citizenship and is considering returning home to live.

Dawn Fraser and Murray Rose exchange the Olympic flame in George Street, Sydney in 2000.

Dawn Fraser and Murray Rose exchange the Olympic flame in George Street, Sydney in 2000.Credit:Grant Turner

In his world-record-breaking days as a 400 metres and 1500 metres freestyle swimmer, everyone was amazed at how he managed to win so many close finishes.

The truth is, he disliked winning by so great a margin that his opponents looked badly beaten.

He preferred to win by a touch than half the length of the pool.

There were 10 other nominations for the male award.

They were: Bill Roycroft (equestrian), Herb Elliot and Ron Clarke (athletics), Michael Wendon, Fred Lane and John Konrads (swimming), Mervyn Wood, Bobby Pearce (rowing), Colin Coates (speed skating) and Peter Macken (pentathlon).

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