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ASC honours career of Harry Gordon

Harry Gordon
Harry Gordon joined the Sydney Daily Telegraph in 1943.

22 Jan 2015

Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Chair John Wylie AM has paid tribute to one of Australia’s most respected and influential sporting journalists and historians Harry Gordon on a career that spanned 70 years.

Harry Gordon passed away in Queensland at the age of 89.

“Harry Gordon was a prolific writer and an influential mentor. His work helped to shape the sporting narrative of our nation," Wylie said.

“Harry was the inaugural recipient of our ASC Lifetime Achievement Media Award in 2002, which indicates the high respect in which he was held in the sporting and media industry.

“At the time we described Harry as the 'doyen of Australian Olympic journalism' and that remained the case throughout his life.

“Our best sporting journalists paint the picture for the people who are unable to attend events such as the Olympics and Harry Gordon was certainly one of our best over a very long period.”

Gordon joined the Sydney Daily Telegraph in 1943 and covered his first Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952.

At 21 Harry became sports editor of the Straits Times in Singapore and served as a war correspondent in Korea. He went on to senior posts, becoming editor of the Melbourne Sun, editor-in-chief of Queensland Newspapers, editor-in-chief of The Herald and Weekly Times and chairman of AAP.

He is the only journalist in Australia, and perhaps the world, to have covered the two Olympic opening ceremonies held in Australia; Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000.

Throughout his career, Gordon mentored and guided hundreds of young journalists making their way in the profession.

He wrote 15 books, including acclaimed histories including; Australia and the Olympic Games, The Hard Way about his beloved Hawthorn Football Club and From Athens With Pride which was updated last year.

He won both the National Book Council first prize for Australian literature and the Barbara Ramsden literature award. He is Dawn Fraser's biographer.

In 1994 he became honorary official historian of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC).

In 1999 he was awarded the Australian Olympic movement's highest award, the Order of Merit, and in 2001 he received the International Olympic Committee's highest honour, the Olympic Order. Both awards are rare for journalists.

In 2006 he was awarded the International Society of Olympic Historians highest honour, the ISOH Award and he was made a member of the Melbourne Press Club Hall of Fame in 2013.

Harry wrote about sport for The New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated and National Geographic.  One 1966 feature for the NYT Magazine on Arthur Ashe has been included in American collections of great sports writing.

More than 70 years after he joined the Telegraph, he was still writing about sport and enjoying it.

“Above all else, he was a true gentleman and will be deeply missed by all who knew him and his work,” Wylie said.

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