Marjorie Jackson-Nelson AC CVO MBE (b. 1931), former sprinter, was Governor of South Australia from 2001 to 2007. The ‘Lithgow Flash’ won Olympic gold medals in the 100m and 200m at Helsinki in 1952, becoming the first Australian woman to win an Olympic gold medal for track and field and the first Australian to win an Olympic gold medal on the running track since 1896. Between 1950 and 1954 she won every State and Australian title for the 100 yards and 220 yards. She broke world sprint records ten times and garnered seven Commonwealth Games gold medals. Sportsman of the Year in 1952, in 1953 she was awarded an MBE for her services to athletics. Since the death from leukaemia in 1977 of her husband, Peter Nelson, she has been dedicated to securing funds to sponsor research into the disease, raising several million dollars for facilities in Adelaide.
Avril Thomas painted Jackson-Nelson in a number of sittings at Government House. The portrait incorporates objects referring to Jackson-Nelson’s position as Governor and her Olympic career, such as her kangaroo-skin running spikes and a maquette of the life-sized statue of her in her home town of Lithgow.
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The portrait of Her Excellency Marjorie Jackson-Nelson AC CVO MBE by Avril Thomas was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.