Dawn Fraser AC MBE OLY is
Australia’s greatest Olympian. In November 1999, Dawn was
awarded “World Athlete of the Century” at the World
Sport Awards in Vienna. In the same year was also awarded “Athlete
of the Century” by the Australian Sports Hall of Fame. She
was voted the person who best symbolises Australia and in 1998
was included as one of Australia’s National Living Treasures.
Dawn Fraser’s sporting
accomplishments are unlikely to be repeated - in swimming or
any other sport.
She is an international phenomenon: a multi-Olympic and
Commonwealth Games Gold Medal winner whose success stretched
over fifteen magnificent years. During her career she broke and
held 41 World records and was undefeated over 100 metres
Born in the Sydney suburb of
Balmain, Dawn is the youngest of eight children from a
working-class family. In 1952, her awesome swimming ability was
noted by coach Harry Gallagher, who took over the training of
the broad-shouldered teenager and set the 1956 Olympics in her
In 1955 Dawn won
her first Australian title in the 220 yards freestyle and,
during that summer season, went on to re-write the record
books: setting new Australian records in all freestyle events
up to 880 yards. At the 1956 Melbourne Olympics she became an
Australian national hero and world swimming star, winning the
100 metres freestyle gold medal in world record time as well as
taking gold in the 100 metres freestyle relay and silver in the
400 metres freestyle.
Dawn won two more gold medals at
the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales, and another gold
at the Rome Olympics in 1960 for the 100 metres freestyle. By
this time she had attained the status of a legend, in the first
rank of Australian sporting heroes. Yet then, as today, she
remained untouched by her fame.
After winning four gold medals at
the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Dawn finished her
international swimming career at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964
silencing her critics by winning a gold medal in the 100 metres
freestyle at the age of 27. Taking her total Olympic medal
count to four gold medals and four silver medals.
She has continued to give back to
her sport and other sports by being mentor for Able and Disable
Australian Olympic Teams since 1988.
ONE HELL OF A LIFE”.
Published by Hodder Headline Australia.
Twenty years later Dawn returned
to the public life as an independent member of the New South
Wales Parliament. She has since maintained an active role in
the sporting and wider community as Patron of the Cerebral
Palsy Sports Association, the Wheelchair Sports Association of
Victoria and of the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Is a
Founding Member of the Laureus Sports Academy, a member of the
Sport for Good Foundation and Vice President of the World
Association of Olympic Winners, while continuing to support
sporting clubs across the country. She is also a member of the
NSW Sports Advisory Board and is a Director of the Wests Tigers
Football Club, Balmain Leagues Club and Balmain Football Club.
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games
Opening Ceremony, Dawn was honoured by the Atlanta Olympic
Organising Committee as one of seven greatest athletes of all
time and also carried the Olympic torch on its way to the main
At the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games,
Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the International Olympic
Committee made Dawn, First Lady of the Olympic games partnering
him to the Opening Ceremony in which she was one of seven
Australian women to run with the Torch in the main Stadium. She
also was the Attaché to the Australian Olympic Team in 2000.
She remains one of Australia’s best-loved identities.
This and more information is
documented in an Autobiography that she wrote called “DAWN
ONE HELL OF A LIFE”. Published by Hodder Headline Australia.