Jump to content

Australia's Oldest Olympian Dies

Recommended Posts

One of our equestrian greats - and founder of a equestrian dynasty. RIP

Coates honours Olympian Roycroft's bravery


Heroic horseman Bill Roycroft has been remembered for bravery as much as considerable ability by Australia's Olympic fraternity.

Roycroft, Australia's oldest Olympian, died aged 96 on Sunday with his place in sporting folklore secure.

The patriarch of Australia's greatest equestrian family made his Olympic debut at the 1960 Rome Games - aged 45.

The horseman from a central Victorian dairy farm won gold in the three-day team event despite riding with a broken shoulder.

Roycroft navigated his trusty Our Solo around the Olympic course while heavily sedated, having effectively broken out of hospital.

Roycroft suffered the injury in a fall the previous day and doctors refused his discharge.

They also refused to return his clothes, so he infamously threatened to walk out in his underwear.

Having signed a form taking responsibility for his own safety, Roycroft and Australia won a first Olympic equestrian gold medal.

"On the final day in the show jumping he managed to clear 12 jumps despite the injuries and being full of painkillers and clinging to the reins with only one arm working," Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said in a statement on Monday.

Roycroft also won bronze at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, when he was team flag bearer.

And he collected another bronze eight years later at the Montreal Games, becoming Australia's oldest medallist at the age of 61 years and 31 days.

Roycroft was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 1969 for services to sport and given the Australian Olympic Committee's Order of Merit in 1978.

Chosen as one of eight of Australia's greatest Olympians to carry the Olympic flag on home soil for the opening ceremony at the Sydney 2000 Games, Roycroft contested the three-day event at five consecutive Olympics.

Incredibly, he competed alongside each of his sons Barry, Wayne and Clarke in an equestrian dynasty.

Roycroft, who died with an undisclosed illness in a hospital in Camperdown, northwest Victoria, was lauded as a hero and pioneer by Equestrian Australia chief executive officer Grant Baldock.

"His family's contribution to the sport of equestrian is unprecedented," Baldock said.

"He was a legend.

"The term does get thrown out lightly at different times but he was certainly a legend in our sport and Australian sport."

Sports Minister Mark Arbib said Roycroft was the father of Australia's proud equestrian movement.

"Bill's services to the Australian equestrian and Olympic movements will never be forgotten and he has been immortalised as a legend in the Sports Australia Hall of Fame," Senator Arbib said in a statement.

Sydney Morning Herald

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...