Aussie great Murray Rose dies

2012-04-15 13:23

Brisbane - Australian swimming great and four-time Olympic gold medallist Murray Rose died in Sydney on Sunday aged 73 after a battle with leukaemia, Swimming Australia said.

English-born Rose moved to Australia as an infant following the Second World War and started swimming in Sydney at the age of five.

He became an Olympic champion in 1956 as a 17-year-old, winning the first of his three gold medals at the Melbourne Games in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay.

He followed that gold medal with victories in the 400m and 1500m 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 fellow Australian John Konrads in the 1500m.

Rose was one of eight who carried the the Olympic flag at the Sydney 2000 Olympics opening ceremony.

Swimming Australia president David Urquhart said Rose's death was 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," Urquhart 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."

Konrads confirmed he and other former swimmers had been informed of Rose's death on Sunday.

"I'm just extremely sad at the passing of one of the greatest swimmers of all time and a great mate," Konrads said.