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Walter Lindrum/Australia’s greatest sportsman

Many of our 3 million readers may be shocked by my choice and I would wager the Pargie tenner that many would not even have heard of him.

If you take as your criterion mastery of your chosen sport then Wally Lindrum beats them all. The Kalgoorlie Cannon so dominated his sport of billiards from 1933 to his death after partaking of a defective steak and kidney pie which turned back on him in Surfers Paradise in 1950 that the rules of the game had to be altered to make a match against him any contest. An opponent could be handicapped 6,000 points but most did not even accept the challenge as Wally once scored 4,137 in one break alone against Joe Davis.

Some might argue for Don Bradman but Neville Cardus called the Don “the Lindrum of cricket”.

Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall

Another might be Rod Laver, the Queensland Rocket being the only man to win a Grand Slam twice, though Margeret Court won 7 grand slams in her 56 major titles.

Ken Rosewall has a claim based on the longevity of his career reaching Wimbledon finals with a 20 year distance.

“Muscles” was the greater returner of serve but Laver was the dominating force.

Herb Elliot was invincible  between 1957 and 1961 in 1500m but the Suriaco Strongbox’s span at the top was relatively short, unlike Dawn Fraser who won golds in the Olympiads of 1956, 1960 and 1964.

Jack Brabham was the only driver to win a championship in a  car of his own design.

Peter Thomson won 5 Opens whilst Greg Norman, The Great White Shark, only won 2 majors but was number one for 336 days and was the first golfer to clear $10m in winnings.

However my own number two to Wally Lindrum is Sir Hubert Opperman the 24 hour event cyclist. Few present at the Bal d’Or in 1928 would ever forget Oppy’s victory ride, made on his interpreter’s cycle, as his own had had its chain vandalised.

He never had the support of team-mates of the calibre of the French teams expect possibly co-rider Fatty Lamb. He was so popular in France that a gendarme stopped all the traffic to wave him through with the words

Allez Oppy. Bonne chance.”

Oppy became a well known Labour politician and High Commissioner of Malta.

All the above-mentioned and a lot more besides like Scobie Beasley, Ian Thorpe, Cathy Freeman and Evonne Cawley are immortalised in the Museum of Sport at the MCG.

There is no doubt who the most famous is. The kid from St Kilda, Shane Warne, has his own hologram in which he talks through his illustrious career.

About Tom Hollingworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a former deputy sports editor of the Daily Express. For many years he worked in a sports agency, representing mainly football players and motor racing drivers. Tom holds a private pilot’s licence and flying is his principal recreation. More Posts