Al­ways that coun­try girl

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS -

A GOLD medal­list at the 1962 Com­mon­wealth Games at Perth, Brenda Laidlaw once ran on the Dal­larnil sports­ground track.

Brenda was the sec­ond of four chil­dren born to her bank of­fi­cer fa­ther Charles Henry Cox and mother Joyce (nee White).

Her ath­letic abil­i­ties be­came ap­par­ent at an early age, break­ing her first Queens­land record as a 10year-old in the 50-yard sprint.

At age 14, Brenda held the ju­nior 80m hur­dles record (un­der 18 years), which she broke a num­ber of times in the ju­nior and open di­vi­sions. Brenda also held 75, 100 and 220 yard Queens­land records.

Grow­ing up in the coun­try towns in­clud­ing Biggenden where her fa­ther moved with the bank, Brenda de­vel­oped her love of the great out­doors and her nat­u­ral ath­letic abil­i­ties.

The fam­ily moved to Bris­bane in 1957 in the in­ter­ests of aca­demic and ath­letic op­por­tu­ni­ties and Brenda started at Bris­bane Girls Gram­mar School the fol­low­ing year.

While at BGGS, she be­came the first of only two stu­dents to ever win the Trustees Cup for Cham­pion Ath­lete in ev­ery year she at­tended (1958-1961).

Brenda joined the Thomp­son Es­tate and Eastern Suburbs Ath­let­ics Club and in 1961 broke the Aus­tralian ju­nior record for 100 yards in 10.5 sec­onds, only 0.2 sec­onds out­side the world open record set by Mar­lene Mathews a few years ear­lier.

The in­ter­na­tional sports mag­a­zineWorld Sports awarded her a plaque to hon­our this ef­fort, which was the world’s fastest time for the women’s 100 yards in 1961, and the world’s sev­enth all-time best per­for­mance.

Brenda was a medal­list at the 1962 Com­mon­wealth Games in Perth, where she won the bronze medal in the 100 yards and a gold medal in the 4 x 100 yard re­lay with Joyce Ben­nett, Glenys Beasley and Betty Cuth­bert.

She fin­ished a close fourth in the 220 yards fi­nal, and was also hon­oured to be se­lected as the Aus­tralian rep­re­sen­ta­tive to lunch with the Duke of Ed­in­burgh dur­ing the Games.

An in­jury be­fore the 1964 Olympic tri­als ended Brenda’s com­pet­i­tive ath­let­ics ca­reer but she con­tin­ued her sport­ing in­ter­ests with hockey and bad­minton.

Brenda met her fu­ture hus­band Ken Laidlaw via the Queens­land bad­minton as­so­ci­a­tion, mar­ried in 1971, and moved to the Laidlaw pineap­ple farm.

It was here she found her ul­ti­mate vo­ca­tion, as she saw it, as a mother.

Brenda ac­tively sup­ported her chil­dren’s aca­demic, mu­si­cal and sport­ing pur­suits, and vol­un­teered in var­i­ous coach­ing roles through­out their school years.

Brenda main­tained a love of the great out­doors and of Moun­tWalsh in par­tic­u­lar.

Brenda first climbed the Bluff as a 15 year-old in 1959 with some of her friends and cousins (Jan, Roger and Mur­rayWhite).

She also en­joyed climb­ing the Bluff on a num­ber of later oc­ca­sions, such as the 1988 White fam­ily re­union and the Biggenden State School Cen­te­nary in 1992.

Brenda al­ways en­joyed re­turn­ing to Biggenden to visit rel­a­tives.

She was also thrilled to be in­vited back as part of the of­fi­cial party for the 80th Dal­larnil Sports Day cel­e­bra­tions in 2000, hav­ing com­peted at the event in the 1950s (as had her mother Joyce, aunt Myra White and un­cles Jim andWal­ter White in the 1920s).

Brenda was able to en­joy good health and fit­ness un­til her di­ag­no­sis with a brain tu­mour in 2010.

Brenda is sur­vived by hus­band Ken, chil­dren Kirsten, Bron­wyn and Hunter, and six grand­chil­dren.


CHAM­PION ATH­LETE: The late Brenda Laidlaw (nee Cox).

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