Ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games this month, South Australian icon Marjorie Jackson-Nelson has been recognised as a Commonwealth Games life member, with today marking 70 years since she became the first Australian woman to win Olympic gold on the running track at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games.
Marjorie is one of the most significant figures in Australia’s Commonwealth Games history, winning seven Commonwealth Games gold medals and setting 10 world records over the course of her athletics career.
She has dedicated her career post athletics to philanthropy in support of leukaemia research through the Peter Nelson Leukaemia Research Fellowship Fund, in honour of her late husband Peter.
At 17 years old, Marjorie was introduced to the global athletics stage in 1949 when she won the 100-metre sprint at the Sydney Sports Grounds. Today marks 70 years since Marjorie became the first Australian woman to win Olympic gold on the running track at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games.
Affectionately known as ‘The Lithgow Flash’ after the country town in New South Wales where she lived, Marjorie was appointed Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1953 ‘For Women’s athletics’ becoming the first Australian woman to receive this honour for sporting achievement.
“I’m very honoured to have received life membership from the Commonwealth Games of Australia. My association with them has spanned many years and in June my daughter, Sandra accepted the award on my behalf at a function held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground,” Marjorie said.
Marjorie has received many honours for her achievements including as one of the original inductees into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985 and elevated to Legendary status 10 years later.
In 1990, Marjorie was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) ‘For service to community health and to sport’ and in 2001 she was appointed Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).
Marjorie settled in Adelaide with her husband, Australian Olympic cyclist, Peter Nelson in 1953 and served as the Governor of South Australia from 2001-2007.
Peter passed away from leukaemia in 1977, and the same year Marjorie established the Peter Nelson Leukaemia Research Fellowship Fund in his memory.
“I am very proud that over the past 45 years, with the support of a handful of volunteers and the South Australian community, we have been able to sponsor ten researchers through the Peter Nelson Leukaemia Research Fellowship Fund, in the hopes of finding a cure for leukaemia,” Marjorie said.
Dr Laura Eadie from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) is the current recipient of the Peter Nelson Leukaemia Research Fellowship Fund. The fellowship will support Dr Eadie and her team in the search for targeted treatment options with fewer side effects for sufferers of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Dr Eadie said that financial support is vital for emerging research leaders, like herself, to be able to continue their important work.
“Through the Peter Nelson Leukaemia Research Fellowship Fund, I have received a continuity of funding that has enabled me to lead important work that will help all leukaemia patients. I am proud to be a recipient of the Peter Nelson Leukaemia Research Fellowship Fund and am incredibly thankful for the generous support that makes this research possible,” she said.
The Peter Nelson Leukaemia Research Fellowship Fund is proudly administered by Cancer Council SA. For more information, please contact Cancer Council SA on 1300 65 65 85 and to make a donation visit the website here or post to the Peter Nelson Leukaemia Research Fellowship Fund at PO BOX 929, Unley SA 5061.