News

The Late Basil Dickinson "A Credit to his Country" - Coates

9 October 2013

AOC: Australia's oldest surviving Olympian, Basil Dickinson, a track and field athlete from the 1936 Berlin Games has passed away at the age of 98. 

He was born on the first ANZAC Day, 25 April 1915, in Queanbeyan and died at his home in the Blue Mountains on Monday. 

“Basil was a remarkable man, very friendly, a great gentleman with a quick wit,” said AOC President John Coates. “He was our most senior Olympic competitor and one that we all treasure for the standards he set for the Olympians who followed over the next 70 years. He was a credit to his sport and the country in general.” 

Dickinson was very active despite his age. Last year he was a special guest at the annual Kapyla Club Reunion of the 1952 Olympic Team at the Sydney Rowing Club where he was a big hit with his fellow Olympians. 

He was one of 33 Australian athletes to compete at what were called “Hitler’s Games” in Berlin before the outbreak of World War Two. Many of the Australian Team had to save 200 pounds to actually make the trip. 

They sailed on the liner Mongolia and it took 41 days to reach Berlin. The Australians took a live kangaroo mascot called “Aussie”. 

The Australians refused to give the Nazi salute as they passed the Fuhrer’s box of honour during the Opening Ceremony, even though they had been advised to do so by the German organisers. 

Dickinson competed in the triple jump alongside teammate Jack Metcalfe who had broken the triple jump world record in 1935 with Dickinson also close to the world mark that year. 

The pair were ranked first and second triple jumpers in the world going into the Games. Metcalfe won the bronze medal and Dickinson finished 16th with a jump of 14.48m. 

Sadly the outbreak of World War Two meant that there were no Olympic Games for 12 years until London 1948 and Dickinson's Olympic career ended in Berlin. 

At the 1938 Empire Games Dickinson won bronze medals in both the long jump and triple jump. 

He enlisted in 1939 and after the war he worked in the insurance industry and eventually retired to the Blue Mountains. 

Basil and his wife Elizabeth (deceased) had two children, Pauline and Michael (deceased). He is also survived by two granddaughters, two great grandsons and a grandson in law. 

His family has been offered the Olympic flag for the funeral. 

AOC