Still our youngest in­di­vid­ual gold

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Outdoor Adventure -

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.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d430889

It is 50 years since El­iz­a­beth Ed­mond­son won gold at the Tokyo Par­a­lympics.

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