Blasts from the past: Teenage girls clean up at ’56 Olympics

Sport

Blasts from the past: Teenage girls clean up at ’56 Olympics

Journalist

Today in SA sports history: December 6

1956 — Four teenage girls combine to win Olympic bronze for SA in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay at the Melbourne Games. Natalie “Toy” Myburgh – the team’s strongest swimmer who had finished eighth in the women’s 100m freestyle final a few days earlier – delivered a strong final leg as she took SA from fourth place to third, making up four yards on her German rival. Jenny Myburgh (no relation) had gone off first, bringing SA home in fourth before Sue Roberts pulled them up to third. Mo Abernethy, a backstroker, was pushed back into fourth spot before Toy produced her fireworks. On the same day, cyclist Alfred Swift, a draughtsman on the SA Railways, caused a major shock when he took bronze in the 1,000m time trial. Swift had won a silver in the 4,000m at the 1952 Olympics. That was the last time SA won an Olympic cycling medal. And the relay bronze was SA’s last Olympic swimming medal until Penny Heyns at Atlanta 1996. Jenny, just 16 at the time, moved to Johannesburg to train for the Games because Hillbrow was the only heated facility in the country, staying with the Roberts family.  Previously she had been based at the Sea Point pavilion where she had to dodge other pool-goers during training sessions. 

1969 — The Springboks lose to Scotland for the second time in a row, going down 3-6 at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. Flyhalf Piet Visagie landed a penalty for SA while fullback Ian Smith scored a try and kicked a penalty for the home side. It was the first test of what would be an underwhelming end of year tour...

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