Bill Roycroft (AP Photo)
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Bill Roycroft, Australia's oldest Olympian and winner of an extraordinary gold medal at the 1960 Rome Games, has died at the age of 96, Equestrian Australia said Monday.
Roycroft, who won gold in the team three-day event at Rome despite a broken collar bone, died Sunday at a hospital at Camperdown in Victoria state after suffering from an undisclosed illness.
He competed in the three-day event at five consecutive Olympics, his first at the age of 45. He competed in the event with each of his sons Barry, Wayne and Clarke. Wayne's former wife, Vicki Roycroft, also competed as a show jumper at four Olympics for Australia.
"His family's contribution to the sport of equestrian is unprecedented," Equestrian Australia chief executive Grant Baldock said in a statement.
"The term does get thrown out lightly at different times but he was certainly a legend in our sport and Australian sport."
In 1960, Roycroft broke his collarbone in a fall during the steeplechase section on the eventing course. But he checked himself out of hospital so Australia had three finishers for the final day — show jumping — of the three-day event.
"Without Bill checking himself out of hospital there is no way the team would have won that 1960 Rome gold medal," Baldock said.
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said "it was the courage of Bill Roycroft that made that feat so historic."
"In the show jumping, he managed to clear 12 jumps despite the injuries and being full of pain killers and clinging to the reins with only one arm working," Coates said in a statement Monday.
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