Olympics

These are Australia’s greatest Olympic moments of all time

We asked The Weekly readers for their favourite Olympic moments.
Australian athlete Cathy Freeman, the Australian flag and the Australian Aboriginal flag draped around her shoulders, after winning the women's 400 metres event of the 2000 Summer Olympics, held at Stadium Australia in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 25th September 2000. (Photo by Henri Szwarc/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Australia has a rich history of unforgettable sporting moments, and at the Olympics we, as a nation, punch well above our weight when it comes to athletic talent and success. From record-breaking wins to selfless acts of sportsmanship, these are Australia’s greatest Olympic moments of all time.

(Original Caption) 1952-Helsinki, Australia- Photo shows the finish of the woman’s 80 meters hurdles final, showing Shirley Strickland, of Australia (31) winning, with Maria Golubichnaja, of Russia (480), second, and Maria Sander of Germany (757), third.

Shirley Strickland’s hurdles triumph

Helsinki 1952 and Melbourne 1956

Shirley Strickland was a dominant force in hurdling, winning gold in the 80m hurdles at the Helsinki 1952 and Melbourne 1956 Olympics. She also secured a bronze in the 100m sprint in Helsinki. Strickland’s technical brilliance and unwavering dedication to her sport earned her a total of seven Olympic medals, making her one of Australia’s most decorated athletes.

(Original Caption) 8/9/1956-Melbourne, Australia: Just a pace behind world mile champion John Landy, 19-year-old Ron Clarke, shown here when Landy broke the four-minute mile at melbourne’s Olympic Park, is being touted as a new champion among the Australian runners. beginning to race only two years ago, Ron has already knocked 12seconds off his time in running the mile this season.

John Landy’s sportsmanship

Melbourne 1956

John Landy’s act of sportsmanship during the 1500m final at the Melbourne 1956 Olympics is one of the most celebrated moments in Olympic history. After a fellow competitor, Ron Clarke, fell during the race, Landy stopped to help him up before continuing the race. Despite losing valuable time, Landy caught up and finished third, exemplifying the true spirit of the Olympics.

Betty Cuthbert of Australia (No.468) wins the women’s 100 metres final at the Melbourne Olympics, 2nd December 1956. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Beth Cuthbert’s triple gold

Melbourne 1956

Betty Cuthbert, also known as the “Golden Girl,” made history at the Melbourne 1956 Olympics by winning three gold medals in track and field. She claimed victory in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay, becoming an instant national hero. Cuthbert’s explosive speed and humble demeanour endeared her to fans worldwide and solidified her place as one of Australia’s greatest athletes.

Medalists of the 1500m, Australian gold Herb Elliott (C), French silver Michel Jazy (L) and Hungarian bronze Itsvan Rozsavolgi (R) stand on the olympics podium, at Rome on September 07, 1960. Herb Eliott ran a 400 meters sprint finish to win the gold medal in world record time. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Herb Elliott’s dominance

Rome 1960

Herb Elliott’s performance in the 1500m at the Rome 1960 Olympics is considered one of the greatest middle-distance runs of all time. Elliott not only won the gold medal but also set a new world record with a time of 3:35.6. His extraordinary achievement remains a benchmark in middle-distance running and highlights his status as one of Australia’s most iconic athletes.

ROME, ITALY: Dawn Fraser from Australia shows her gold medal that she won at the 100-meter freestyle swimming 30 August 1960, during the Olympic Games held in Rome. (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP via Getty Images)

Dawn Fraser’s hat-trick

Melbourne 1956, Rome 1960 and Tokyo 1964

Dawn Fraser is a legend in Australian swimming, known for her extraordinary achievements in the 100m freestyle. She won gold in the event at three consecutive Olympics: Melbourne 1956, Rome 1960, and Tokyo 1964. Her third gold in Tokyo made her the first woman to win the same Olympic event three times. Fraser’s rebellious spirit and unmatched prowess in the pool left an indelible mark on Olympic history.

Los Angeles, CA – 1984: (l-R) Mario Martinez, Dean Lukin, Manfred Nerlinger, Weightlifting medal ceremony, Albert Gersten Pavilion, at the 1984 Summer Olympics, August 1, 1984. (Photo by Tony Triolo /Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

Dean Lukin’s weightlifting gold

Los Angeles 1984

Dean Lukin became a national hero when he won gold in the super heavyweight division of weightlifting at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics. Lukin, a tuna fisherman from Port Lincoln, South Australia, lifted a combined total of 412.5 kg, securing Australia’s first Olympic weightlifting gold. His victory demonstrated incredible strength and brought weightlifting into the Australian sporting spotlight.

Los Angeles, CA – 1984: Glynis Nunn, Women’s heptathlon / javelin competition, Memorial Coliseum, at the 1984 Summer Olympics, August 3 1984. (Photo by Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

Glynis Nunn’s heptathlon gold

Los Angeles 1984

Glynis Nunn’s triumph in the heptathlon at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics was a defining moment in Australian athletics. Nunn’s consistent performance across all seven events earned her the gold medal, making her the first Australian woman to win an Olympic heptathlon.

SOUTH KOREA – SEPTEMBER 17: Swimming: 1988 Summer Olympics, Australia Duncan Armstrong victorious after winning 200M Freestyle gold medal and setting new world record with 1:47,25 at Chamshil Indoor Pool, Seoul, South Korea 9/17/1988–10/2/1988 (Photo by Peter Read Miller/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) (SetNumber: X37088)

Duncan Armstrong’s 200m freestyle gold

Seoul 1988

Duncan Armstrong’s unexpected victory in the 200m freestyle at the Seoul 1988 Olympics is one of Australia’s most celebrated swimming moments. Coached by the legendary Laurie Lawrence, Armstrong broke the world record and defeated a field of highly favoured competitors. His time of 1:47.25 secured him the gold medal and solidified his place in Australian sporting history.

2 Aug 1992: Australia win gold in the mens coxless fours at the Barcelona Olympic Games in Spain. Mandatory Credit: David Cannon /Allsport

The Oarsome Foursome

Barcelona 1992

The Australian men’s coxless four rowing team, known as the Oarsome Foursome, captured the nation’s imagination with their gold medal performance at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Comprised of Nick Green, Mike McKay, James Tomkins, and Andrew Cooper, the team dominated their competition, winning by a significant margin. Their camaraderie and collective strength set a new standard for Australian rowing and inspired future generations.

Kieren Perkins, Australia, wins Gold (Photo by Matthew Ashton/EMPICS via Getty Images)

Kieren Perkins’ 1500m freestyle legacy

Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996

Kieren Perkins’ dominance in the 1500m freestyle spanned two Olympic Games, cementing his legacy as one of Australia’s greatest swimmers. At Barcelona 1992, he set a new Olympic record, winning by nearly 10 seconds. His resilience shone at Atlanta 1996, starting from lane eight and leading to his second consecutive gold. Perkins’ performances exemplified determination and skill, marking the beginning of a distinguished career in the pool and solidifying his place in Australian sporting history.

20 Jul 1996: The Australian team celebrates a goal during the Australia v Spain women”s field hockey at Morris Brown College during the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, USA Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell /AFLO/Allsport

The Hockeyroos’ golden era

Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000

The Australian women’s field hockey team, known as the Hockeyroos, enjoyed a golden era in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Their back-to-back gold medal victories at the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympics showcased their dominance in the sport. Coached by Ric Charlesworth, the team played with skill, precision, and a relentless drive, cementing their legacy as one of Australia’s most successful Olympic teams.

Australian athlete Cathy Freeman, holding a bouquet of flowers, on the winners’ podium during the medal ceremony following the women’s 400 metres event of the 2000 Summer Olympics, held at Stadium Australia in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 25th September 2000. (Photo by Lutz Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Cathy Freeman’s 400m victory

Sydney 2000

Cathy Freeman’s triumph in the women’s 400m final at the Sydney 2000 Olympics is etched in the hearts of Australians. As the face of the Games, the pressure on Freeman was immense. Donning a sleek, full-body suit, she sprinted her way to victory in front of a home crowd, uniting a nation and symbolising hope and reconciliation for Indigenous Australians. Her win in 49.11 seconds remains one of the most emotional and inspiring moments in Olympic history.

23 Sep 2000: The Australian team celebrate their Gold medal win, in the Women’s Water Polo match between Australia and the USA, at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, held at the Aquatic Centre in Olympic Park, Sydney, Australia. Australia 4 defeated Australia 3. DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT

Australia’s first women’s Water Polo gold

Sydney 2000

The Australian women’s water polo team made history at the Sydney 2000 Olympics by winning the inaugural women’s water polo gold medal. In a thrilling final against the United States, Australia clinched victory with a last-second goal by Yvette Higgins, securing a 4-3 win. This triumph was a significant milestone for Australian women’s sports and showcased the talent and determination of the team.

Ian Thorpe of Australia celebrates his 200m Freestyle gold medal victory during the Athens 2004 Olympics Games at the Olympic Aquatic Centre in Athens Greece on August 16, 2004. Thorpe swam an Olympic-record time of 1:44.71. (Photo by Allen Kee/Getty Images)

The legacy of the Thorpedo

Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004

Ian Thorpe, known as the Thorpedo, left an indelible mark on Olympic history with his exceptional swimming prowess. Competing across multiple Games, Thorpe’s standout moment came at Sydney 2000, where he won three gold and two silver medals, setting a world record in the 400m freestyle. His dominance continued at Athens 2004 with two more golds and a silver. Thorpe’s total of five gold and three silver medals made him Australia’s most successful Olympian, at the time. His remarkable performances and record-breaking achievements cemented his legacy as one of the greatest swimmers of all time.

Matthew Mitcham of Australia celebrates after receiving his gold medal won during the final of the men’s 10m platform diving at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 23, 2008. Mitchell won gold with a score of 537.95 points. AFP PHOTO / Greg WOOD (Photo credit should read GREG WOOD/AFP via Getty Images)

Matthew Mitcham’s perfect dive

Beijing 2008

Matthew Mitcham’s gold medal in the men’s 10m platform diving at the Beijing 2008 Olympics is one of the most remarkable achievements in Olympic history. Mitcham delivered a perfect dive in the final round, scoring a near-perfect 112.10 points. His total score of 537.95 secured him the gold medal, making him the first Australian male to win an Olympic gold medal in diving since 1924.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 07: Anna Meares of Australia celebrates winning the final and the gold medal in the Women’s Sprint Track Cycling Final on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Velodrome on August 7, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Anna Meares’ comeback

London 2012

Anna Meares’ incredible comeback at the London 2012 Olympics is a story of resilience and determination. After a career-threatening crash in 2008, Meares fought her way back to the top of track cycling. In London, she faced her arch-rival, Victoria Pendleton of Great Britain, in the sprint final. Meares delivered a masterful performance, defeating Pendleton and claiming the gold medal, proving her status as one of the greatest track cyclists of all time.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 07: Sally Pearson of Australia leads Jessica Zelinka of Canada and Nevin Yanit of Turkey during the Women’s 100m Hurdles Final on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 7, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Sally Pearson’s 100m hurdles gold

London 2012

Sally Pearson’s victory in the 100m hurdles at the London 2012 Olympics was a defining moment for Australian athletics. In a thrilling final, Pearson narrowly edged out her competitors to win gold with an Olympic record time of 12.35 seconds.

Australia’s Chloe Esposito celebrates with her gold medal in the women’s modern pentathlon at the Deodoro Stadium during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 19, 2016. / AFP / Yasuyoshi Chiba (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)

Chloe Esposito and her modern pentathlon win

Rio 2016

Chloe Esposito’s gold medal in the modern pentathlon at the Rio 2016 Olympics was a historic achievement for Australia. Esposito’s remarkable performance across fencing, swimming, show jumping, and the combined running and shooting event earned her the top spot on the podium. Her victory marked Australia’s first ever medal in the modern pentathlon.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 08: Gold medalist team Australia celebrate with their gold medal after the medal ceremony for the Women’s Rugby Sevens on Day 3 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Deodoro Stadium on August 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Australian women’s Rugby Sevens win

Rio 2016

The Australian women’s rugby sevens team made history at the Rio 2016 Olympics by winning the first-ever gold medal in the sport. The team dominated the competition, showcasing their speed, skill, and teamwork. In the final, they defeated New Zealand 24-17 in a thrilling match, cementing their place as pioneers in women’s rugby and inspiring a new generation of female athletes.

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 28: Ariarne Titmus of Team Australia poses with the gold medal for the Women’s 200m Freestyle Final on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Ariarne Titmus’ gold streak

Tokyo 2000

Ariarne Titmus delivered outstanding performances at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, winning gold in both the 200m and 400m freestyle. Her rivalry with American swimmer Katie Ledecky made headlines, and Titmus’ victories in these events were thrilling to watch. Her 400m freestyle win, where she surged ahead in the final lap, was particularly memorable and showcased her incredible talent and determination.

TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 02: Emma McKeon of Team Australia poses for a photo with her seven Olympics medals after the Australian Swimming Medallist press conference on day ten of the Tokyo Olympic Games on August 02, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Emma McKeon’s record haul

Tokyo 2020

Emma McKeon had a record-breaking Olympics at Tokyo 2020, winning seven medals in total, including four gold and three bronze. McKeon’s gold medals came in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay, and 4x100m medley relay. Her remarkable achievements made her the most decorated Australian Olympian in a single Games and cemented her place in Olympic history.

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 31: Logan Martin of Australia in action in front of the Olympic rings logo during the Men’s BMX Freestyle seeding event on day eight on day eight of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Urban Sports Park on July 31, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Logan Martin’s BMX victory

Tokyo 2020

Logan Martin made history by winning the inaugural BMX freestyle event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Martin’s high-flying tricks and flawless runs earned him the gold medal, showcasing his incredible skill and daring. His victory was a proud moment for Australia and highlighted the growing popularity of BMX freestyle.

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