Forty years after George Parker won Australia's first Olympic walking medal, a silver, Noel Freeman matched that feat at Rome 1960 in finishing second behind the great Vladimir Golubnichniy of the USSR in the 20 kilometres walk. In the 50 kilometres walk in Rome, Freeman was disqualified, to his amazement, when he believed that he had a chance of winning.
At Tokyo 1964 he finished fourth in the 20 kilometres walk, once again just behind Golubnichniy, the bronze medallist. Injury and officialdom precluded his attending a third Olympics, at Mexico City 1968. He returned to top flight international competition to take the gold medal in the 20 miles walk at the Commonwealth Games at Edinburgh 1970.
After Freeman's silver medal, Australia had to wait a further 44 years before Nathan Deakes and Jane Saville won the next Olympic walking medals, both bronzes, at Athens 2004.
Freeman, who had tried unsuccessfully to qualify for Melbourne 1956 as a 17-year-old, was inducted into the Athletics Australia Hall of Fame in 2012.