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Lionel Cox

Lionel Cox

Inducted 2024

Lionel Cox joined the Marrickville Cycling Club as a 15-year-old, but raced without any success and had so many falls that his mother insisted that he give the sport away.

She allowed him to resume again two years later, giving him a new bike for his 17th birthday.

On his new bike, Cox won every race he contested as a junior, including the state junior sprint title.

Working in the fruit markets to build up his strength, he entered the senior ranks in 1948, winning the New South Wales sprint crown, finishing second in the Australian mile title, and fourth in the sprint.

Incredibly, he went through the 1951/52 New South Wales track season without a single defeat.

When the Olympic team for 1952 in Helsinki was named, Cox was number six on the priority list and his chances of actually racing appeared to be almost nil.

However, Lionel arrived at the Olympics and formed a partnership in the tandem with Russell Mockridge, which would be one of the most remarkable in Australian cycling history.

In the tandem, with Mockridge as pilot and Cox as stoker, the Australians improved with every ride through the heats.

Against the favoured South African pair in the final, the Australians bounded to the front at the gun, matched their opponents' every move and kept them high on the track. The tactics were successful and Mockridge and Cox took the Olympic gold medal by inches.

Lionel then went on to ride the individual sprint. Rather than the one-on-one sprinting that we see today, at the 1952 Olympics it was three riders on the track in the final for one race in a winner takes all format.

It was Italy’s Enzo Sacchi who collected the gold medal, Lionel took the silver, bronze went to Werner Potzernheim of Germany.

After the games, Cox raced with startling success on the European circuit and competed in the 1953 and 1955 world championships.

He also represented Australia at the 1954 Vancouver Commonwealth Games before turning professional in 1956.

Lionel went on to coach at Camperdown and then Tempe, guiding riders to state, national and international success.

In 1993, he was inducted into the Sports Australia Hall of Fame. And in 1999 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to cycling as a coach and a competitor.

From humble beginnings, Lionel Cox became an Olympic champion.

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