The Roar
The Roar


19 days to Rio: All hail the Lithgow Flash

Australian athlete Marjorie Jackson competing at a club meeting in Sydney (Wikipedia Commons).
17th July, 2016

Marjorie Jackson AKA ‘The Lithgow Flash’ will forever be remembered as Australia’s first female track gold medalist.

Jackson was also the first Australian runner to break a world record and her rivalry with the great Fanny Blankers-Koen was legendary.


The girl from the country went from obscurity to the talk of the athletics world after defeating the Ducthwoman in a series of exhibition runs held in Australia in 1949.

The stunning results came after Blankers-Koen had won four gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics.

Jackson, though was hardly overawed and her practice on the town’s purpose built running track stood her in good stead to take on the world’s best.
In fact at the Sydney Sports Ground run, Jackson ran in a time that was better than world record set by Blankers-Koen.

It was a sign that Jackson was more than ready to test herself on the world stage.

By the time the 1952 Olympics came around, the Lithgow Flash had won four titles at the Commonwealth Games (known then as the Empire Games).
At the ‘big dance’ in Helsinki, Jackson nailed her runs in the 100 and 200 to win two gold medals. She equalled the 100-metre world record and set a new one in the 200.


She may well have won a third medal, but for some misfortune in the relay when her baton was dislodged from her arm by a competitor’s knee.

Jackson continued to run for another two years. She lowered her 100-metre world record to 11.4 seconds before retiring after the 1954 Commonwealth Games alongside her Olympic cycling husband Peter Nelson.

Jackson’s achievements were recognised by having a road named in her honour at Sydney Olympic Park, and she was also chosen as one of eight flag-bearers to carry the Olympic flag during the Opening ceremony in 2000.

Be sure to follow The Roar as we look back on some of the most memorable moments in Olympic history – be they weird and wacky or brilliant and significant – and count down the days until the Rio Olympics opening ceremony.

The Roar’s countdown to the Rio Olympics

50 days to go: Australia’s first Olympian, Edwin Flack
49 days to go: Brazil capitulate at the 2012 Olympics
48 days to go: Blood in the water during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics
47 days to go: Daniel Carroll, the man who won rugby gold with Australia and America
46 days to go: Margaret Abbott – the golfer who didn’t know she had won gold
45 days to go: Where did all the amateurs go?
44 days to go: Australia’s oarsome foursome
43 days to go: When Korea stood as one
42 Days to go: Oscar Swahn, the oldest Olympian
41 days to go: Edith Bosch – the Olympian not known for her medals
40 days to go: Jane Saville’s heartbreaking Sydney Olympics
39 days to go: Herb Elliot dominates in Rome 1960
38 days to go: Teofilo Stevenson, the boxer who might have beaten Ali
37 days to go: Betty Cuthbert steals the show in Melbourne
36 days to go: Jesse Owens’ heroic performance in Berlin
35 days to go: Eric the Eel steals Sydney’s heart
34 days to go: What happened to Cassius Clay’s gold medal?
33 days to go: Australia’s equestrian brilliance at Barcelona
32 days to go: The Olympic sports which are no longer with us
31 days to go: Debbie Flintoff-King wins on the line
30 days to go: The dominance of basketball’s Dream Team
29 days to go: Nadia Comenaci scores gymnastics’ first-ever perfect score
28 days to go: The man who stopped for a duck
27 days to go: The upset of the Sydney Olympics
26 days to go: Murray Rose’s scintilating Melbourne performance
25 days to go: Greg Louganis’ heroic comeback win
24 days to go: Fencing turns to duelling in Paris
23 days to go: Dawn Fraser’s flag-stealing shenanigans
22 days to go: The most prolific Olympic competitor
21 days to go: Duncan Armstrong’s underdog win in Seoul
20 days to go: Johnny Weissmuller: A brilliant swimmer and Hollywood actor
19 days to go: Majorie Jackson – the Lithgow Flash
18 days to go: Larisa Latynina, the most successful female Olympian
17 days to go: Dimitrios Loundras, the child who won an Olympic medal
16 days to go: Roy Jones Jr is robbed of an Olympic gold
15 days to go: Shane Gould’s superstar performance in Munich
14 days to go: The Kookaburras finally fly to the top of the world
13 days to go: Matthew Mitcham’s historic dive
12 days to go: Even Olympians are prone to the odd fail
11 days to go: Abebe Bikila wins the Olympic marathon running in bare feet
10 days to go: Track cycling’s greatest rivalry
9 days to go: Kieran Perkins’ gold medal from lane eight
8 days to go: Sally Pearson’s awesome run in London
7 days to go: Mark Spitz’ perfect seven gold medals in ’72
6 days to go: Usain Bolt torches the field in Beijing
5 days to go: Michael Klim and Ian Thorpe help smash America’s 4x100m world record like a guitar
4 days to go: Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ defiant black power salute
3 days to go: Michael Phelps – the best to ever grace the Olympics
2 days to go: Cathy Freeman delivers with the weight of a country on her back
1 day to go: Ian Thorpe – Australia’s finest Olympian