Andy Richards remembers Birmingham's 'lost' Olympic legend
Aussie swimming hero Murray Rose was the Michael Phelps or Mark Spitz of his era.
Fellow Aussie Phelps has racked up Olympic gold medals over the past decade and American Spitz took seven at the 1972 Munich games.
But before them, in the 1950s, Rose landed four golds and earned the accolade of Australia’s greatest male Olympian.
With his blond good looks and athletic prowess, he was feted by the media as the all-Australian golden boy and described as a greater swimmer than former Olympic champion and Tarzan star Johnny Weissmuller.
Austrian-Hungarian-born Weissmuller was one of the world’s best swimmers in the 1920s, winning five Olympic golds and one bronze.
Then, after his swimming career ended, he became the sixth actor to portray Edgar Rice Burroughs’ ape man Tarzan, a role he played in 12 movies, becoming by far the best known.
Rose himself fancied a move into movies, but unlike the hero of the Tarzan films, he was unable to make the leap to film stardom after his swimming days ended. He played a couple of minor roles in films before the work dried up.
The frustrating thing is, had things turned out slightly differently, his Olympic medals could have been won for Britain – and Rose would have been the pride of Birmingham.