Fraser named greatest female athlete

By David Barbeler, David Barbeler is a Roar Guru


12 Have your say

    Swimming legend Dawn Fraser has been voted Australia’s greatest ever female athlete at an awards ceremony in Canberra.

    Fraser pipped athletics great Betty Cuthbert and surfer Layne Beachley for the top gong, which was decided by a combination of public vote, expert input from fellow athletes and research conducted by advocacy group Sports for Women.

    The Sportswomen’s Ball at Parliament House, sponsored by the Australian government and attended by Sports Minister Kate Lundy, announced the top 100 Australian female athletes of all time.

    Fraser won four gold and three silver Olympic medals between 1956 and 1964.

    She was also the first of only three swimmers in Olympic history to win individual gold medals for the same event at three successive Olympics, taking out the 100m freestyle each time.

    “It really is a great honour and I’m very very proud I can uphold that for women in sport,” the self-confessed sports rebel told AAP.

    “To think that I have been voted the number one athlete in Australia, I’m extremely proud.”

    Despite her 1964 Tokyo Olympics controversies, which included being arrested for stealing an Olympic flag and marching during the Opening Ceremony when she was told not to, Fraser said she liked to think of herself as a pioneer in the sport of swimming.

    “We set examples for the younger generations to follow,” she said.

    “Times have changed drastically which has been very good and I would like to think that I was one of those people that changed those rules.”

    Margaret Court (tennis), Lauren Jackson (basketball), Heather McKay (squash), Rechelle Hawkes (hockey), Shirley Strickland (athletics), Anna Meares (cycling), Cathy Freeman (athletics), Karrie Webb (golf) and Liz Ellis (netball) rounded out the top twelve.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • February 28th 2013 @ 5:17am
      AndyMack said | February 28th 2013 @ 5:17am | ! Report

      Pretty good top 12 there.

      Happy with Dawn at #1

      All of those in the top 12 would rate on a world stage, and be close to the top of the pile in their sports history.

    • Roar Guru

      February 28th 2013 @ 6:34am
      sheek said | February 28th 2013 @ 6:34am | ! Report

      To appreciate just how good Dawn Fraser was & how much better she could have been, the only freestyle events available to her at the 1956, 60 & 64 Olympics were the 100m, 400m & 4 x 200m relay.

      Unlike today, there was no 50m, no 200m & no 4 x 100m relay.

      Dawn won 3 x 100m freestyle gold medals. It’s reasonable to assume, with her blinding speed, she would also have won 3 x 50m freestyle gold medals.

      She was pipped for gold in the 1956 400m final by team mate Lorraine Crapp. Obviously, 400m was a bit long for her. It’s also reasonable to assume had there been 200m available, she would have medalled in all three, perhaps picking up two gold.

      Finally, if there had been 4 x 100 relays, Australia would definitely have won the gold in 1956, & picked up minor podium places in 60 & 64.

      Dawn won four gold medals, four silver medals & a bronze from the program available to her.

      It’s patently clear, given today’s more expanded program, she would have probably won 9-10 gold medals all-up & about 9-10 minor medals all-up. In other words, easily doubled her 4-4-1.

      Dawn was named by an international sporting organisation in 1999 as the greatest female swimmer of the 20th century.

    • February 28th 2013 @ 6:47am
      Johnno said | February 28th 2013 @ 6:47am | ! Report

      The list was not bad, but feel Heather Mckay defiantly deserved higher ranked than Lauren Jackson. Lauren Jackson is great, but she is not even the best women’s basketball player ever, more top 10 maybe top 5.
      Heather Mckay is the no 1 female squash player ever period. She was ranked 6th best Aussy female sports woman, Lauren Jackson was ranked 5.

      Karen Rolton the female cricketer was unlucky as well not to make the top 25, as was maybe Kerry Juna Saxby.
      Debbie Flintoff-King may of pushed that top 25.

      Didn’t have any other complaints abut the list except for Heather Mckay’s ranking, .

      Stephanie Rice could of maybe made the top 25 too, She held a world record, and won 2 Olympic gold medals in 2008 at Beijing , when swimming is really global now a tough feat.

      • February 28th 2013 @ 1:16pm
        Chop said | February 28th 2013 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

        Agree, Heather McKay didn’t lose a match in 17 years….17 YEARS….How she’s not the top sportswoman of all time is ridiculous.

    • Roar Guru

      February 28th 2013 @ 7:24am
      sheek said | February 28th 2013 @ 7:24am | ! Report

    • Roar Guru

      February 28th 2013 @ 7:26am
      sheek said | February 28th 2013 @ 7:26am | ! Report

      I must own up to a couple of mistakes. The women have always had a 4 x 100m freestyle relay. The 4 x 200m was not introduced until 1996.

      It is the men who only swam the 4 x 200m freestyle relay until 1964, when the 4 x 100m was introduced.

      The womens individual 200m was not added until 1968.

      Both mens & womens 50m freestyle were not added until 1988.

      Nor did Dawn win any bronze medal.

      But it doesn’t change the original premise that Dawn, given today’s program, could easily have won about 9 gold medals & another 9 minor medals.

    • February 28th 2013 @ 1:56pm
      matt h said | February 28th 2013 @ 1:56pm | ! Report

      Excellent call on Layne Beachley and Rechelle Hawkes I think. Definitely deserved top 12. I think Shane Gould was unlucky not to be higher. I guess that showcases the argument of dizzying peak vs’ longevity.

      I would say that Tracy Wickham could have snuck into the top 25, Maybe Alisa Camplin was also a bit low.

      But hard to argue really and shows a wonderful depth of talent. A couple of the names outside the top 25 really popped out as fierce fierce competitors – Michelle Timms, Kathy Watt.

      and finally surely Vicki Wilson was a bit hard done by to miss out entirely?

      • February 28th 2013 @ 6:51pm
        bill said | February 28th 2013 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

        Definitely agree about Shane Gould. And what a dizzying peak it was … hard to believe anybody could hold every freestyle world record at once (100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m) … and she was only 15 years old … amazing.

        She was one of three incredible Australian sports people to retire very young, the other two I’m thinking of are Herb Elliott (at 22 I think) and Mark Ella (at 25).

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