Australia at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics
In a recent guest post on jamaipanese.com I discussed Tokyo’s contribution to the Olympic Movement when they played host in 1964 to the Games of the XVIII Olympiad. As an accompaniment to that article, this post explores Australia’s participation at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Australia sent a squad of 243 athletes to Tokyo securing 18 medals (6 gold, 2 silver and 10 bronze) finishing 8th overall. Fencer Ivan Lund was Australia’s flag bearer at the opening ceremony, however, a new tradition was added to the Games finale making champion swimmer Dawn Fraser the first person to carry the nation’s flag at a closing ceremony.
Dawn Fraser was unquestionably the star of the Australian team when she won gold in the 100m freestyle becoming the first swimmer to win a gold medal in the same event at three consecutive Olympic Games. She also set a world record with a time of 59.5 seconds that was not broken until 1972.
Fraser’s appearance at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics was, however, marred with controversy. Amongst a number of misdemeanours, the Australian Swimming Union basically ended her career when they suspended her for 10 years after she stole an Olympic flag from a flagpole outside Emperor Hirohito’s imperial palace. She was arrested but released without charge. The Emperor subsequently gave her the flag as a souvenir.
Sprinter Betty Cuthbert, who had won three gold medals 8 years earlier at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, won her fourth gold medal in Tokyo in the first women’s 400m ever contested at an Olympics.
Other golds were won by Kevin Berry in the 200m butterfly, Ian O’Brien in the 200m breaststroke and Rob Windle in the 1500m freestyle. Australia also took their first gold in sailing in the 5.5m yachting class. Yachtsman William Northman was the oldest gold medalist in Tokyo (at age 59) and remains Australia’s oldest Olympic champion.
Ron Clarke, who had lit the Olympic cauldron as a teenager in Melbourne eight years earlier, won a bronze medal in the 10,000m.
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Want to know more about the 1964 Tokyo Olympics? Go check out my guest post on jamaipanese.com.