Vale Helen Joy Hardon
28 July 2016
It is with deep sadness that the Australian Olympic Team has a new oldest living Olympian after the passing of Helen Joy Hardon, who was a fencer at the Melbourne 1956.
Hardon passed away at the age of 95 in a Central Coast nursing home after fighting sickness for some time.
Forbes Carlile a modern pentathlete from the Helsinki 1952 Games is now Australia’s oldest living Olympian.
Hardon was the 1955 National Open Women’s Foil Champion and was selected as one of 21 Australian fencers, of which only three of them were women, to compete at the first Olympic Games on Australian soil.
It was only by sheer determination that she was able to compete at all however, as she was struck down by a debilitating virus at the start of the Games.
She struggled through the pre-Games training camp though and went on to be knocked out in the first round of the women's individual foil, finishing eighth in her group, and 28th overall, admitting she was not at full strength in the competition.
After the Games, Hardon moved to Vanuatu where she worked as a secretary to the British Resident Commissioner for nearly two decades. She also spent nine years working in England before returning home to Australia.
Hardon’s contemporary Carlile is also 95, having been born just two days after her on June 3 1921.
Carlile had his first Olympic experience as a coach when he was in charge of the Australian Swimming Team at the 1948 London Olympic Games.
Four years later he became the nation’s first Olympic modern pentathlete while also becoming the first Australian to both coach and compete at an Olympic Games.
He would finish 25th out of 51 competitors in London and following his only Games as a competitor he returned to coach swimming. He started Australia’s first commercial swim school and eventually began a university program that allowed athletes to study the swim program.
He currently lives in Sydney and is a regular at the Kapyla Club which sees athletes from the Helsinki 1952 Olympic Team reunite each year.