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Generally regarded as Australia’s greatest female athlete, Dawn Fraser is also widely accepted as her country’s greatest-ever Olympian. She won four gold medals in three successive Olympic Games between 1956 and 1964, including three straight 100 metres freestyle titles. In 1981, she was awarded the prestigious Olympic Order.
She is the only swimmer, male or female, to win the same event three times and she is one of only three female swimmers to win a record eight Olympic medals. Fraser rounded off her outstanding Olympic career at the Tokyo Games of 1964 when, just past her 27th birthday, she triumphed with her third consecutive title in the 100 metres. A silver medal in the relay event boosted her overall Olympic medal haul to a remarkable eight - also a record for a female swimmer.
During her nine years of global swimming dominance, she set an amazing 28 world records. Her first world record in her specialist event - the 100 metres freestyle - came in February 1956 when she clocked 1:04.5 seconds in Sydney. She went on to lower that mark on no fewer than 10 occasions, dipping under a minute for the first time in October of 1962 and posting her fastest time - 58.9 seconds - in Sydney on February 29, 1964.
Once her competitive career was over, Fraser remained very close to the sport and she was popularly awarded the MBE. She has always endeared herself to the public with her willingness to speak out on public issues and, in recent years, she has been outspoken over corruption within the International Olympic Committee.
In 1999, she formed a new lobby group - Olympic Advocates Together Honorably (OATH) - with Canadian Olympic swimming star Mark Tewsbury, former South African long-distance runner Zola Budd and American athlete Willie Banks.