CHAMPION ATHLETE: The late Brenda Laidlaw (nee Cox).
CHAMPION ATHLETE: The late Brenda Laidlaw (nee Cox). Contributed

Gold medallist Brenda Laidlaw was always a country girl

A GOLD medallist at the 1962 Commonwealth Games at Perth, Brenda Laidlaw once ran on the Dallarnil sportsground track.

Brenda was the second of four children born to her bank officer father Charles Henry Cox and mother Joyce (nee White).

Her athletic abilities became apparent at an early age, breaking her first Queensland record as a 10- year-old in the 50-yard sprint.

At age 14, Brenda held the junior 80m hurdles record (under 18 years), which she broke a number of times in the junior and open divisions. Brenda also held 75, 100 and 220 yard Queensland records.

Growing up in the country towns including Biggenden where her father moved with the bank, Brenda developed her love of the great outdoors and her natural athletic abilities.

The family moved to Brisbane in 1957 in the interests of academic and athletic opportunities and Brenda started at Brisbane Girls Grammar School the following year.

While at BGGS, she became the first of only two students to ever win the Trustees Cup for Champion Athlete in every year she attended (1958-1961).

Brenda joined the Thompson Estate and Eastern Suburbs Athletics Club and in 1961 broke the Australian junior record for 100 yards in 10.5 seconds, only 0.2 seconds outside the world open record set by Marlene Mathews a few years earlier.

The international sports magazine World Sports awarded her a plaque to honour this effort, which was the world's fastest time for the women's 100 yards in 1961, and the world's seventh all-time best performance.

Brenda was a medallist at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, where she won the bronze medal in the 100 yards and a gold medal in the 4 x 100 yard relay with Joyce Bennett, Glenys Beasley and Betty Cuthbert.

She finished a close fourth in the 220 yards final, and was also honoured to be selected as the Australian representative to lunch with the Duke of Edinburgh during the Games.

An injury before the 1964 Olympic trials ended Brenda's competitive athletics career but she continued her sporting interests with hockey and badminton.

Brenda met her future husband Ken Laidlaw via the Queensland badminton association, married in 1971, and moved to the Laidlaw pineapple farm.

It was here she found her ultimate vocation, as she saw it, as a mother.

Brenda actively supported her children's academic, musical and sporting pursuits, and volunteered in various coaching roles throughout their school years.

Brenda maintained a love of the great outdoors and of Mount Walsh in particular.

Brenda first climbed the Bluff as a 15 year-old in 1959 with some of her friends and cousins (Jan, Roger and Murray White).

She also enjoyed climbing the Bluff on a number of later occasions, such as the 1988 White family reunion and the Biggenden State School Centenary in ! 1992.

Brenda always enjoyed returning to Biggenden to visit relatives.

She was also thrilled to be invited back as part of the official party for the 80th Dallarnil Sports Day celebrations in 2000, having competed at the event in the 1950s (as had her mother Joyce, aunt Myra White and uncles Jim and Walter White in the 1920s).

Brenda was able to enjoy good health and fitness until her diagnosis with a brain tumour in 2010.

Brenda is survived by husband Ken, children Kirsten, Bronwyn and Hunter, and six grandchildren.

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