1996, 27 Minutes
Resilient, determined and naturally talented, Shirley Strickland was one of Australia’s greatest athletes, winning seven medals in three successive Olympic games.
Born in a remote West Australian country town, Shirley did not wear shoes until she was twelve years of age. She was sent to boarding school and, in 1947, graduated from university with an Honours degree in science.
Whilst lecturing in mathematics and physics at Perth Technical College, she started to think seriously about athletics. By 1948 she had not only become a national champion sprinter and hurdler, but was also considered to be Australia’s top athlete in the team for the London Olympics.
Despite being plagued by personal and professional misfortune, Shirley won a silver and two bronze medals at her first Olympics. Then, though juggling a full-time job, a new marriage and her athletics training schedule, she qualified for the 1952 Australian Olympic team. In Helsinki she scored her first Olympic gold medal. At 30 years of age, she was encouraged to retire to make room for the next generation of competitors. But her determination led to a further two gold medals in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
Shirley Strickland de la Hunty continued as an athletics coach for many years. She was also an ardent conservationist, a National Trust member and mother of four children.
A Film Australia National Interest Program. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Producer/Director/Writer: Frank Heimans
Interviewer: Robin Hughes
Running Time: 27 Minutes
Curriculum Links: Cultural Studies, English, PDHPE, Physical Education, SOSE, Sports Studies, Women's Studies.