Still our youngest individual gold
FIFTY years after competing in her first Paralympics as a 14-yearold, Yokine resident Elizabeth Edmondson still holds the record for being the youngest individual gold medallist in Australia.
The 64-year-old won gold medals in the 50m freestyle, breastroke and backstroke events in Tokyo in 1964, which was the second Paralympics.
Four years later in Israel, Edmondson won two gold and one silver medal and broke two world records.
“I had to retire after that because there was no financial help and we retired and went out to the workforce,” she said.
The Tokyo Paralympics from November 8-12, 1964 attracted 375 athletes from 21 countries, with Australia fielding a team of 15 athletes who won 12 gold, 11 silver and seven bronze medals.
“When an Englishman presented me with my medals, he said ‘ Congratulations, you flaming drongo’. I didn’t know whether to be insulted or pleased,” Edmondson said. “My parents received a telegram about my gold medals when I was in Tokyo.”
Edmondson, who had polio when she was a baby, was encouraged to join a swim team at Beat- ty Park Leisure Centre 10 months before competing at the Paralympics.
She said swimming was something she could do freely.
“I want to keep swimming as long as I can,” Edmondson said.
She joined Stadium Masters Swimming Club in 2006 and has since competed in several Masters Games against able-bodied swimmers.
Edmondson won the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and was inducted in to the Swimming WA Hall of Fame in 2008 and Wheelchair Sports WA Hall of Fame the following year.
It is 50 years since Elizabeth Edmondson won gold at the Tokyo Paralympics.