Murray Rose, Australian Olympic swimming great, farewelled in Sydney


From L to R Tsuyoshi Yamanaka (silver) from Japan, Murray Rose from Australia, who won the Gold and Jon Konrads (bronze) from Australia, the winners of the 400 meters freestyle swimming pose with their medals Sept. 1, 1960, during the Olympic Games held in Rome.

Swimming legend Murray Rose was a true gentleman and a national hero, fellow Olympian Dawn Fraser has told his memorial service in Sydney.

The champion — who won four Olympic gold medals, in Melbourne in 1956 and Rome in 1960, and set 15 world records — died from Leukemia last week, according to Australia's ABC. He was 73.

A gathering of 200 mourners included other Australian sporting greats, such as Olympian John Konrads.

Two of Rose's Olympic gold medals and a white Olympic flag were placed on his casket, Australia's Daily Telegraph reported.

Australian Olympic Committee boss John Coates called Rose the finest swimmer in the world of his era.

''But he was so much more than a great swimmer,'' Coates added, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

He was ''an understated perfectionist, a perfect communicator who never seemed to raise his voice'' whose decency, dignity and generosity of spirit inspired contemporaries and subsequent champions, such as Kieren Perkins and Ian Thorpe.

Coates said Rose ''represented all that's good in life, embodying the values and virtues of the Olympic movement''.

The wife of the British-born swimmer, who lived and worked in the US for more than 30 years — several of them as a Hollywood actor — remembered him by paddling out on a wave at Bondi Beach.

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''He was my husband, my beloved, my man of the sea,'' Jodi — an American ballerina — said, the SMH reported.

Fraser, herself a multi-Olympic gold medal winner, simply remembered a gentleman hero in an age before celebrity endorsement. 

"Before celebrity became code for promotion, Murray was a national hero," Fraser said in her eulogy.

"It was a pleasure to have him as a friend and a team-mate. It was great to sit next to him in the dining room where you could swap your vegies for his meat," she said, a reference to Rose's vegetarianism.

"He will always be known as the pioneer of distance swimming in Australia. Murray was a true gentlemen, he will be a great loss to the Olympic family, he will be a great loss to the swimming community, and he will be a great loss to the wider community.

"To me personally, I have lost a true friend and a great team-mate. But the greatest loss will be felt by his wife Jodi and his son Trevor.

"The master of cool. The only guy to go through life and not cause a ripple, but certainly make enormous waves."

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