Marjorie Jackson-Nelson

Marjorie Jackson-Nelson AC, CVO, MBE (born 13 September 1931) is a former Governor of South Australia and a former Australian athlete. She finished her sporting career with two Olympic and seven Commonwealth Games Gold Medals, six individual world records[1] and every Australian State and National title she contested from 1950–1954.[3]

The Honourable

Marjorie Jackson-Nelson

Marjorie Jackson-Nelson in 2007
33rd Governor of South Australia
In office
3 November 2001  8 August 2007
MonarchQueen Elizabeth II
PremierRob Kerin (2001–02)
Mike Rann (2002–07)
Preceded bySir Eric Neal
Succeeded byKevin Scarce
Personal details
Born (1931-09-13) 13 September 1931
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales
Spouse(s)Peter Nelson (1953–77; his death)
ResidenceMarion, South Australia
Marjorie Jackson-Nelson
Jackson at a club meeting in Sydney on 12 January 1952
Personal information
Height1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
Weight66 kg (146 lb)
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)100 m – 11.4 (1952)
200 m – 23.59 (1952)[1][2]


Marjorie Jackson was born in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, and first gained fame when she defeated reigning Olympic 100 and 200 metres champion Fanny Blankers-Koen a number of times in 1949, thus earning the nickname "the Lithgow Flash", after the New South Wales town of Lithgow where she lived and had grown up.[4]

Having won four titles at the 1950 British Empire Games, Jackson came as a favourite to the Helsinki 1952 Summer Olympics. She won both the 100 m, in a then-world-record-equalling time of 11.5, and the 200 m, winning the first Olympic athletics track titles for Australia since Edwin Flack in 1896. Having more strong runners in the team (consisting of Shirley Strickland, Winsome Crisps and Verna Johnston in addition to Jackson), the Australian 4 × 100 m relay team was also a favourite for the gold, but a faulty exchange[5] meant Jackson's chances for third gold medal were gone. The Americans, anchored by Catherine Hardy (later Lavender), won in an upset, setting a new world record time of 45.9 seconds.[1] Later in 1952, Jackson lowered the 100 m world record time to 11.4, running this new record in a meet at Gifu, Japan on 4 October 1952.[2]

In 1953 Jackson married Olympic cyclist Peter Nelson.[1] After his death from leukaemia in 1977, she launched the Peter Nelson Leukaemia Research Fellowship. Now named Jackson-Nelson, she was one of the eight flag-bearers of the Olympic Flag at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. She also has a road named in honour of her at the Sydney Olympic Park, beside the Sydney Superdome (now Qudos Bank Arena).


In late 2001, Jackson-Nelson was appointed Governor of South Australia. On 15 March 2006, Jackson-Nelson was one of the final four runners who carried the Queen's Baton around the MCG stadium during the 2006 Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony in Melbourne. On 6 June 2007, it was announced that a new medical facility to be built in Adelaide will be named the "Marjorie Jackson-Nelson Hospital", and shortly afterwards she ceased her tenure on 31 July 2007.[1] On 18 February 2009, Premier Mike Rann agreed to remove her name from the planned hospital.


She is also a Dame of the Order of St John of Jerusalem and a Freeman of the City of London.

In 1993, the State Transit Authority of New South Wales named a Sydney RiverCat ferry after Jackson-Nelson.


  1. Marjorie Jackson.
  2. Marjorie Jackson (née Nelson).
  3. "Olympic Order for Lithgow Flash". The Canberra Times. 16 July 2007. p. 4.
  4. Jackson Nelson, Marjorie (31 May 2004). "GNT History". George Negus Tonight (transcript). Interviewed by George Negus. ABC1. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  5. "AUSTRALIA LOSES WOMEN'S RELAY AS BATON FALLS". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). 28 July 1952. p. 1. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  6. It's an Honour – Member of the Order of the British Empire
  7. "Marjorie Jackson Nelson AC CVO MBE". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  8. It's an Honour – Companion of the Order of Australia
  9. It's an Honour – Commander of the Royal Victorian Order


Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Eric Neal
Governor of South Australia
Succeeded by
Kevin Scarce
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