Australia loses Golden Girl Shirley - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Australia loses Golden Girl Shirley

By Janelle Miles and Holly Nott 17/02/2004 09:00:10 PM Comments (0)

Australia has lost its original Golden Girl. Olympic great Shirley de la Hunty, formerly Shirley Strickland, has died aged 78.

Strickland, who died at her Perth home a couple of days ago, paved the way for a string of Australian women track stars of the 1950s and 60s, winning seven Olympic medals between 1948 and 1956.

She collected three Olympic crowns, including back-to-back wins in the 80m hurdles at the Helsinki and Melbourne Games.

Until Strickland, no other female track athlete in history had won consecutive Olympic finals in the same event.

She died as Australia's most successful Olympic track and field athlete with three golds, a silver and three bronze medals from three Games.

Swimming legend Dawn Fraser won eight Olympic medals including four gold, while fellow sprinter Betty Cuthbert won four Olympic golds but no other medals.

Australian Olympic Committee historian Harry Gordon once described Strickland as "a pathfinder, the first in a line of Australian female track stars whose deeds have made a lasting impact on the Olympics".

Strickland blazed a trail for names like Cuthbert, Marjorie Jackson and Marlene Mathews as well as a new generation of track stars through her coaching.

Prime Minister John Howard led the tributes to de la Hunty.

"(She was) one of those names that all my life I've associated, and many Australians have, with athletics, the Olympics," Mr Howard said.

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