'Horrific time': Dawn Fraser opens up on devastating family tragedy

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Sally Pearson and Dawn Fraser, pictured here in 2019.
Sally Pearson and Dawn Fraser at an Australian Olympic Committee Tokyo 2020 Media Event in 2019. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Aussie Olympic legend Dawn Fraser has opened up on the worst day of her life, revealing how she was behind the wheel when her mother was killed in a horrific car accident.

The 83-year-old's life has been filled with tragedy and trauma, surviving two rapes and domestic violence.

But the four-time Olympic gold medallist says that was nothing compared to her mother's tragic death.

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In 1964 when Fraser was just 26, she was behind the wheel when mother Rose was killed in a car accident.

Fraser suffered fractured vertebrae and torn ligaments in her knees, but mother Rose was pronounced dead at hospital.

The Olympic legend kept her pain a secret for decades, but opened up about the tragedy at a training camp in South Australia in 2019.

"I burst out that I was driving the car that killed my mother," Fraser told the Courier Mail over the weekend.

"Everyone burst into tears and I cried with them.

"It got me over some sort of hurdle. I'd just locked it up inside of me."

Despite the tragic loss of her mother and the devastating injuries, Fraser won gold at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo just eight months later.

Dawn Fraser, pictured here at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.
Dawn Fraser at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. (Image: Getty)

Dawn Fraser's traumatic and tragedy-filled life

The 83-year-old also opened up about surviving two separate sexual assaults in her 20s.

"That was one of the most horrific times of my life," she said.

"So horrific I put it in the back of my mind and try not to think about it… It's in the past and I don't live in the past."

Fraser won gold in the 100m freestyle and 4x100m relay at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, before adding another gold medal in 1960 and 1964.

She also won four silver medals and is widely regarded as one of Australia's greatest Olympic athletes.

Fraser also won seven gold medals and a silver at the Commonwealth Games.

She was named Australian of the Year in 1964, inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1965, made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1967 and appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1998.

In 1999 she was named the World's Greatest Living Female Water Sports Champion by the International Olympic Committee and awarded the Australian Sports Medal for "outstanding contribution as a swimming competitor" in 2000.

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