The Lithgow Flash
MARJORIE JACKSON – NELSON A.O., M.B.E.
Marjorie Nelson won two Olympic Gold Medals during her athletics career. Between 1950and 1954 Marjorie won every state and Australian title for the 100yds, 100m, 220yrds and 200m. At the 1950 Commonwealth Games held in Auckland , New Zealand , she won four gold medals. In the 100 metres she equaled the world record. At the same Olympic tournament, Marjorie won the gold medal for the 200 metres to set a New World record.
In doing so, Marjorie Jackson become the first Australian woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal for track and field and the first Australian (male or female) to win an Olympic Gold Medal on the running track since 1896. At the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver Canada , Marjorie Jackson won three gold medals.
During her athletic career Marjorie Jackson broke world sprint records on ten occasions. She was the first Australian woman to be credited with a world record. Her achievements were recognised in 1952 when she became Australia ’s “Sportsman of the year”. The prestigious Helms Foundation, in the United States , awarded her the title of “Outstanding Athlete 1952”. In the 1952 Coronation Honours, Marjorie Jackson popularly known as “The Lithgow Flash” was awarded and M.B.E. for her service to Athletics.
Marjorie Nelson’s commitment to excellence in Australia has not been confined to Athletics. In 1977 her husband Peter Nelson (an Olympic cyclist) died of Leukemia. In that year, Marjorie launched the Peter Nelson Leukemia Research Fellowship. From that date she has dedicated herself to raising funds to sponsor research into combating this disease. This single-handed campaign has involved thousands of hours of work speaking to groups around the state and the nation in order to raise funds.
In 1986 Adelaide ’s Lord Mayor, held a civic reception to honour the fact that Marjorie Nelson had raised $1 million for Leukemia Research. Marjorie with her volunteers is still raising funds and at this time has reached a total of over $2 million. In April of this year the Lord Mayor held another civic reception to honour the 2 million-dollar mark. The funds she is rasing are being used to sponsor a Leukemia Laboratory in Forme Road , Adelaide and recently her campaign has resulted in the appointment of a second researcher of Leukemia at the Flinders Medical Centre.
A full time Research fellowship has also been established with the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Adelaide . Nine years ago, Dr Leonie Ashman was appointed the Rotary Peter Nelson Leukemia Fund Fellow.
Marjorie Jackson’s commitment to Athletics has continued despite her massive commitment to the Leukemia cause. She is a past President of the S.A Division of the Australian Olympic Federation. She was appointed Women’s Section Manager of the Australian Commonwealth Games teams of 1982 and 1986. She has been reappointed to this position for the 1990 Commonwealth Games to be held in Auckland New Zealand and has now been appointed as General Team Manager of the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria , Canada . It is the first time a woman has been appointed to this position.
For the past five years, she was and still is a member of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee for the Confederation of Australian Sport. In 1985 Marjorie was admitted into Australia ’s Sporting Hall of Fame. Marjorie also served five years as a board member for the State Governments’ Sports Institute.
In 1986 during South Australia ’s sesquicentenary celebrations, a plaque was laid in North Terrace, Adelaide , honouring Marjorie Nelson as a great South Australian. In that same year the International Amateur Athletics Association announced that Marjorie had been chosen as one of the outstanding athletes of the Associations seventy-five years.
At a reception at the New Parliament House in Canberra where the Governor-General and the Prime Minister as one of only twenty living members of the “200 Great Australian” honoured her recognised by the Bi-Centenary.
In 1990 was awarded the A.O (Officer of the Order of Australia ) for services to sport and health.
From 1990-1992 she was Deputy Chairperson for Adelaide ’s bid to host the 1998 Commonwealth Games. She was also the guest of the Australian Olympic Federation at th3e Olympic Games in Barcelona , Spain in 1992.