Athletics mourns relay gold winner Fleming

Prominent Australian Olympian Norma Fleming has died in Brisbane, aged 84.
Prominent Australian Olympian Norma Fleming has died in Brisbane, aged 84.

Norma Fleming, a member of the famous 4 x 100 metres relay team that won athletics gold in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, has died.

Competing in a golden era for Australian female sprinters, Fleming (nee Crocker) ran the second leg of a relay team that also included Betty Cuthbert, Shirley Strickland and Fleur Mellor.

An Australian Olympic Committee statement said Fleming died in Brisbane on Wednesday.

She was 84.

"Norma was greatly admired by her teammates and that relay team in Melbourne was quite extraordinary," AOC president John Coates said.

"She was modest and quite in awe of her teammates, having been inspired by Shirley Strickland as a young sprinter."

The relay victory propelled Betty Cuthbert into the record books as the first Australian to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games.

Strickland became the first Australian to win seven medals in Olympic competition while Fleming became Queensland's first gold medallist.

The team set a world record in the heat of 44.9 seconds and broke the mark again in beating Great Britain in the final in 44.5 seconds.

Fleming made the 200m final in Melbourne and finished fourth.

Teammate Marlene Mathews said Fleming was a fierce competitor.

"She was a fighter. She never gave in," Mathews said.

Australian Associated Press