Vale Don Talbot AO OBE
Esteemed Member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame
23/08/1933 – 03/11/2020
The Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF) is mourning the passing of our esteemed Member Don Talbot AO OBE (Coach – Swimming) who passed away peacefully at the age of 87 on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
Almost feared as a disciplinarian by his pupils, Don was always fiercely loyal and supportive. He paid his own way to the 1960 Rome Olympics to cheer on the ‘Konrads Kids’ and Kevin Berry and in 1964 went to Tokyo as the Australian Olympic men’s swimming coach. He was present at all subsequent Olympic Games as part of the Australian contingent until 1976 when he accepted an offer from the Canadian team for the 1976 Olympic Games and the 1978 Commonwealth Games. He was the national head coach for Swimming Canada, leading it to its greatest period of success in the 1984 LA and 1988 Seoul Olympics.
In 1989, Talbot took the reins as Australian swimming’s national head coach. What followed was twelve years of Talbot demanding and getting; quality, commitment, ‘team’ and innovation; culminating in Australia ‘winning’ the 2001 World Swimming Championships – a pinnacle few thought achievable.
Steering Australia to major successes at Olympic, World Championships and Commonwealth Games, Talbot’s proudest moment came when Australia was crowned number one at the 2001 World Championships in Japan.
Never before had Australia come out on top since the beginning of the championship in 1973, and not since the 1956 Melbourne Olympics had they beaten the Americans in the pool.
At the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, Australia and the world witnessed the results of over a decade of Talbot’s coaching and belief in Australian athletes. Here Australia producing its best swimming performance since the 1972 Munich Olympics, finishing second to the USA with five gold, nine silver and four bronze.
SAHOF Chair John Bertrand AO said; “Don Talbot was at the helm of Australia’s golden swimming era. A coaching magician who returned the Australian National squad to its best results in over 30 years at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, he changed the way people thought about high performance. We have much to thank Don for and his legacy will remain as one of Australia’s most successful swimming coaches and a true inspiration. He will be missed by all, in and out of the pool around the world.”
Don Talbot was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as a General Member for his contribution to coaching within sport of swimming in 1990.
Read Don Talbot’s full biography here.