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Melbourne 1956 Olympics - Athletics stars progress to the finals

29 November 2016

Day 8 - Thursday 29 November 1956

The much anticipated swimming program kicked off on day eight of the Games. Betty Cuthbert returned to the track for early rounds of the 200m and one of Australia’s favourite athletes, John Landy started his 1500m campaign. Australia had a good win in the basketball and in the boxing Tony Madigan bowed out.

ATHLETICS: After wins in his 400 metres heat and quarter-final, future AOC President Kevin Gosper was looking a strong medal hope for Australia. However, he received a tough draw in the semi-final and despite running a personal best and Australian record time of 46.2, he placed only fourth in his semi-final and missed progression to the final. His time would have won the other semi and also the final later that day.

Fresh from her 100m win, Betty Cuthbert started her campaign in the 200m, winning her heat and semi-finals comfortably in times of 23.5 and 23.6.

“I felt on top of the world with the way I was running,” Cuthbert said.

There was much anticipation for the men’s 1500m heats which included three Aussies, John Landy, Merv Lincoln and Jim Bailey. There was a shock when Baily didn’t appear on the track for his heat. Half an hour earlier he met Lincoln in the dressing rooms. “Hello Jim. How are you feel”? asked Lincoln. “I’m not running,” Bailey replied. “I’ve got hay fever. I couldn’t go two laps.” Fortunately for Australia, Lincoln and Landy progressed smoothly to the final.

BASKETBALL: In their third quarter-final game, Australia defeated Singapore 98-74 with 30-year-old forward Peter Bumbers scoring 32 points.

BOXING: Contesting the 81kg Light Heavyweight division, Tony Madigan placed equal fifth. After a bye in round one he lost to the Soviet Union’s Romualdas Murauskas in a decision to end his campaign.

SWIMMING: The first swimming session of the Games commenced at 2.00pm with Jon Henricks winning heat one of the men’s 100m Freestyle.

WATER POLO: In their second Group match, Australia was completely outclassed against world number one and eventual silver medallists Yugoslavia, losing 9-1.

WRESTLING: Five Australian Freestyle Wrestlers were eliminated the day's competition. All competitors had undertaken two bouts losing both matches. Three Aussies remained in the tournament, moving into round three.

Interesting Fact:

  •         Australian boxer, Tony Madigan would return to the Olympic arena in 1960 where he won a bronze medal when he was defeated by Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) in the semi-final.

David Tarbotton

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