Sunday 27 July 2008

Dawn Fraser - defining tough

Just had a long Sunday lunch with a cousin of mine. Roast lamb, apple pie, red wine - that sort of thing. Cousin turns 74 this year, so he has been around and done a lot. He's the sort of bloke that had a life and career where he met everyone worth meeting, and had the charisma and personality to be able to chat with all he dealt with.

One lunchtime anecdote deserves recording. At the Empire Games in 1962 in Perth (now called the Commonwealth Games), his wife was on the team as a reserve and he was in a pub one night drinking with Herb Elliot and some other notable persons, none of whom I can remember. This was during the games remember, and before everyone had participated in their events. I think it was the Highway Hotel. Cousin knew them all of course.

Someone suggested they call Dawn Fraser, as she was known to like a bit of fun, so they rang the athletes village and told her where they were. After they hung up the phone, someone said to remind her when she arrived that the taxi would be paid for by someone at the bar.

The bloke who had rung said, "She's not in a cab - she's running here cross country from the village". Now this was at night, a reasonable distance, and could well have been done barefoot. Anyway, Dawn arrived, they all sank lots of beers and then retired to my cousin's house for more once the pub shut.

Dawn left the party at 4am.

That day, she won the 110 yards freestyle.

I call that tough.

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