Australia's golden era swim coach Talbot dies age 87

·2-min read
Coach Don Talbot seen here before the start of the Sydney Olympics in 2000 where the Australia swim team won 18 medals
Coach Don Talbot seen here before the start of the Sydney Olympics in 2000 where the Australia swim team won 18 medals

Long-time former Australia coach Don Talbot has died age 87, with the swimming world on Wednesday remembering him as a legend of the sport who oversaw his country's golden era in the pool.

Talbot passed away peacefully on November 3, Sport Australia Hall of Fame said in a tribute.

He began his coaching career in the 1950s and was Australia's head swimming coach during its peak in the 1990s and 2000s -- including at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when Australia produced their best result in almost 30 years by winning 18 medals. 

The team were behind only the United States with their tally of five gold, nine silver and four bronze medals.

Talbot guided the 4x100m relay team of Michael Klim, Chris Fydler, Ashley Callus and a 17-year-old Ian Thorpe to break the world record and stun the US team who were heavy favourites and had never been beaten in the event since its Olympic introduction in 1964.  

Talbot also guided Australia to lead the medal table at the 2001 World Championships in Japan for the first time in the competition's history.

Former Swimming Australia president John Bertrand said he was a "coaching magician" who "changed the way people thought about high performance".

"We have much to thank Don for and his legacy will remain as one of Australia's most successful swimming coaches and a true inspiration," Bertrand said.

Talbot's association with Australia's international swimming aspirations began when he paid to travel to the 1960 Rome Olympics to cheer on John and Ilsa Konrads -- siblings from Latvia who could not swim when they first arrived in Australia.

Under Talbot's tutelage John won gold medals at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, while Ilsa also triumphed at the Commonwealth Games.

He then became the Australian men's swimming coach at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

"He will be remembered for his uncompromising style, mastery of strategy and motivation, and the belief that given our proximity to water, Australians should be the number one swimming nation in the world," Commonwealth Games Australia said in a statement.

Swimming Canada, where Talbot coached in the 1970s and 1980s, said in a tweet: "We are sorry to hear about the passing of Don Talbot. We send our thoughts to his family and friends."

Talbot was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1979 and the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1990.

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