Dawn Fraser sets record straight on lesbian rumours at age 83


dawn fraser
Image: Dawn Fraser Facebook

Olympic great Dawn Fraser addressed decades-long rumours about her sexuality in an interview with the Courier-Mail this weekend.

Dawn Fraser

One of Australia’s best ever swimmers and greatest Olympians, Dawn Fraser won four Olympic and six Commonwealth Games gold medals. She won individual gold medals for the same event at three consecutive Olympics. Only two other swimmers equalled that achievement in the over a half-century since. The first woman to swim 100 metres freestyle in under a minute, Dawn set 39 swimming records during her career.

Tokyo Olympics

At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Dawn Fraser annoyed the Australian Swimming Union when she marched in the opening ceremony despite them asking her not to. She also refused to wear the officially sanctioned sponsor swimsuit in competition. Instead, she wore an old suit that she found comfortable. But the greatest controversy arose out of her and some friends attempting to steal an Olympic flag from the Japanese Emperor’s palace.

The Japanese police hushed up the incident and a few hours later, Dawn Fraser carried the Australian flag into the Olympics stadium for the closing ceremony. However, Australian sporting authorities, accustomed to more obsequious sports stars, banned her from competitive swimming for a decade.

Dawn Fraser — Tokyo Olympics 1964

Dawn Fraser private life

Born into a poor working-class family, Dawn Fraser suffered numerous personal tragedies in her early life. An older brother died from leukemia in 1950 and her father from cancer ten years later. Dawn’s mother died in a car accident, not long before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Dawn was driving the car. The coroner found that the crash resulted from an accident — Dawn hit a parked ute on a dark night. She suffered cracked vertebrae and torn ligaments and spent nine weeks in a steel brace in the lead up to her record-breaking Tokyo swim.

From the start of her career, rumours about the sporting legend’s sexuality abounded. Dawn Fraser says she had no same-sex relationships during her sporting career. She told the Courier-Mail her first lesbian relationship happened in the 1970s. It was with Joy Cavill, a scriptwriter who worked on the popular Australian television show, Skippy.

She later had another relationship with a golfing friend’s daughter who she opened a shop with.

However, the 83-year-old says she is not gay.

“It wasn’t for me.”

She says that she supports same-sex marriage, however, and voted yes in the postal survey.

“I know some very lovely people who are married and that’s great.”

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