FEATURE: Tributes flow for Australian swimming great Murray Rose
Australian swimming legend and four-time Olympic gold medallist Murray Rose has died aged 73 after a fight with cancer.
Australian swimming legend and four-time Olympic gold medallist Murray Rose has died at the age of 73 after a battle with leukaemia.
Rose, who won three gold medals at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, died in Sydney on Sunday morning and had been ill for several months.
Swimming Australia confirmed Rose's passing.
Tributes were flowing for Rose on Sunday night, with fellow Olympic champion Dawn Fraser remembering Rose as a great companion.
"He was always willing to help the younger generation coming through and he'll be a great and sad loss to the Australian community," she said.
Swimming Australia president David Urquhart said his passing is a great loss for the sport.
"The name Murray Rose is synonymous with success in the sport of swimming, and his achievements in Melbourne in 1956 will go down as the stuff of legend," he said.
"Murray Rose is part of the swimming DNA in this country. His success inspired a generation and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and close friends during this difficult time."
Among the current and former swimmers to pay tribute was butterfly veteran Geoff Huegill, who said on Twitter: "Sad to hear about Murray Rose. True Australian swimming legend. My thoughts are with you and your family."
In a joint statement released on Sunday night, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Sports Minister Kate Lundy said Australia had lost one of its greatest Olympians.
"Murray was a true pioneer of Australian swimming and his impressive feats in the pool helped to shape Australia's destiny as a successful sporting nation.
"Murray will be remembered fondly as a sporting legend who inspired the next generations of elite athletes and helped to propel Australia's sporting success in future Olympics.
"There is no disputing that the Olympian was a champion in the pool, but Murray also made an immense contribution to the community through charity work and as patron of the The Rainbow Club which teaches children with a disability to swim."
Rose, like Betty Cuthbert, emerged from the 1956 Games as a national hero.
Born in Birmingham, England, Rose came to Australia as an infant and started swimming in Sydney aged five.
He was 17 when he became an Olympic champion, winning the first of his three 1956 gold medals in the final of the 4x200m freestyle relay.
He followed with victories in the 400m freestyle and 1,500m freestyle, becoming the first swimmer in 36 years to win both individual events.
After the Games, Rose moved to Los Angeles and attended the University of Southern California.
He returned to Australia to train for the 1960 Rome Olympics, where he won the 400m freestyle and finished second to Konrads in the 1,500m.
He was the only swimmer to have won the 400m freestyle twice in a row; an honour now shared with Ian Thorpe (2000-2004).
Widely regarded as one of the sport's great distance swimmers, Rose was one of eight flag-bearers of the Olympic flag at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.