60 years since the World arrived in Melbourne for the 1956 Olympics held on the 22 November to 8 December. It was the first time the Olympics was held outside Europe or North America.
The 1956 Olympics was very memorable for the canoeing community as it was the first time Australia was represented in Canoe Sprint. Canoe Sprint was held on the Lake Wendouree course in Ballarat.
November 30, marks an import day in the history of Australia’s achievements in canoeing with Australia winning our first Canoe Sprint medal with Dennis Green and Walter Brown’s efforts in the K1 10,000m event with Bronze.
In the remaining events Australia achieved three top-10 places; Bill Jones and Tom Ohman placed seventh in the C2 10,000m; Max Baldwin placed ninth in the K1 10,000m; Bryan Harper placed ninth in the C1.
Since Melbourne 1956 Australia continued a proud history of sending Canoe Sprint Olympians to every Olympics and then Canoe Slalom Olympians when it was introduced in Barcelona 1992.
We spoke to Dennis Green this week to reflect on the Melbourne Olympic Games. “I hope you don’t come last, the team manager told us as we lined up to start the big race. The bronze medal was the most unanticipated medal won at Melbourne. We both proudly stood on the podium and as the Hungarian National anthem played for the Gold medallist I began to feel sick. What if we won Gold? The pommy National anthem would play… People wouldn’t know the Aussies got up, how is this fair?
Denis also reminisced about most likely being the only person allowed to take a dog, his German Shepard called Bamby into the Olympic village. “I will probably be the one person ever who would have or even be allowed their dog in the village. At first they refused for me to have Bamby there but when I said if the dog leaves then so do I and you can stuff your Olympics. It was decided the dog can be a guard for the team manager. The dog finished the week looking like a jumbo jet cause every night at 8pm the kitchen would give Bamby the left over steaks.”
Dennis Green went on to compete at five Olympic Games and was flag bearer in his last Games in Munich in 1972.