1915 - 1997
Lawrence ‘Laurie’ Morgan, who won two gold medals in the three-day equestrian event at the Rome Olympic Games in 1960, was a sportsman of rare versatility. He had the distinction of becoming the first and only senior Australian Rules footballer ever to become an Olympic champion. A cattle farmer and horse-breeder from Janefield, Victoria, he played 34 games as a ruckman with Fitzroy in the Victorian Football League between 1937 and 1939. He was also a state heavyweight boxing champion, and distinguished himself as a rower, international polo player and steeplechase jockey.
Morgan was chosen as captain of Australia’s 1960 equestrian team, with Neale Lavis, Bill Roycroft and Brian Crago. Four riders had to start in the three-day event, involving dressage, endurance and show jumping, and three had to finish for the team to win a medal. On the second day Crago’s horse broke down, and Roycroft was injured when his horse, Our Solo, took a fall. It has become part of legend that Roycroft climbed back, completed the course, and next day discharged himself from hospital to enable the three remaining riders to win team gold. Morgan, on Salad Days, also won the individual gold, and Lavis, on Mirabooka, the silver.
Morgan was 45 at the time of that triumph. At 48, he shed 14 kilograms to ride unsuccessfully in the 1963 Grand National. He won 22 of 33 starts as an amateur steeplechase jockey in England before returning to Australia later that year. Morgan later bred some brilliant racehorses, including the Golden Slipper winner Royal Parma.