Celebrating the legacy and 60th anniversary of the Perth 1962 Commonwealth Games

Athletes march into the Perth 1962 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony

The VII Commonwealth Games were a significant event in the history of the Commonwealth, with more than 800 athletes from 35 different nations coming together to compete in Perth, with today marking 60 years since the Games Opening Ceremony.

Opened by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Games also marked the first time the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games were held, taking place two-weeks prior. 

Perth’s Lord Mayor Harry Howard was instrumental in securing the Games, seeing them as an opportunity to develop the city, a ‘community exercise in which Perth, prone to deprecatory about itself, could find its true stature’. 

Beginning on 22 November 1962, the Opening Ceremony saw approximately 50,000 people descend on Perry Lakes Stadium, braving the scorching heat in celebration of the countries and athletes preparing to compete. 

Australia would go on to top the medal tally, securing 38 gold, 36 silver and 31 bronze medals, for a total of 105, well ahead of England who finished in second with 78 medals. 

Records would also be broken, with high-jumper Percy Hobson and boxer Jeff ‘Mitta’ Dynevor Australia’s first Indigenous Commonwealth Games gold medalists. 

Hobson became the first of the two men to stand atop the podium when he won the men’s high jump against highly fancied opponents with a leap of 2.08m. 

Meanwhile Bantamweight boxer Dynevor joined Adrian Blair and Eddie Barney as one of three Aboriginal boxers at the Games, defeating Ghana’s Samuel Abbey in the bantamweight final – all without the use of one of his fingers which he lost in a workplace accident. 

In the Beatty Park Pool, Australia dominated both on the dais and in the record books, with the men winning 11 gold medals and allowing Canada and England only one gold each, while in the women’s events, the hosts were more than matched by England who won five gold to Australia’s four.  

Australia would also break seven world records in the Pool, one of which saw Dawn Fraser lower her 110 yards freestyle record from 59.9sec (set at the trials) to 59.5sec, while also winning four gold medals.   

In track cycling Australia swept the gold medals, while diving, athletics, boxing and other sports saw a clutch of medals for the hosts. 


1962 Commonwealth Paraplegic Games competitors participate in a team photograph
1962 Commonwealth Paraplegic Games competitors participate in a team photograph prior to the start of competition

Two weeks prior to the Games, the inaugural Commonwealth Paraplegic Games were held, an initiative of Australian George Bedbrook, who was director of the Spinal Unit of Royal Perth Hospital. 

Held from 10 – 17 November 1962, they were the first of four Commonwealth Paraplegic Games (also held in 1966, 1970 and 1974) and saw nine nations and 93 competitors competing, with Australia topping the medal table with 38 gold and 90 medals. 

The Games would lay the foundation for the eventual integration of para-sports at the Manchester 2022 Commonwealth Games, a ground-breaking achievement that saw sports and events fully integrated into a major multi-event Games. 

Sports included on the program were archery, Dartchery (a combination of darts and archery), athletics, swimming, weightlifting, pentathlon, fencing, snooker, basketball and table tennis. 

The Games raised the profile of paraplegic athletes in Australia, highlighting the versatility of the athletes with many winning medals across a number of different sports. 

The Games would continue to set the legacy of the Australian Team, culminating in the recent successes at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.  

With more than 15 days of competition across all events and sports, the Closing Ceremony on 1 December provided the opportunity for athletes to reflect and remember, celebrating the successes of all competitors. 




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