Bill Roycroft

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Other
Full nameJames William George "Bill"•Roycroft
Used nameBill•Roycroft
Born17 March 1915 in Flowerdale, Victoria (AUS)
Died29 May 2011 in Camperdown, Victoria (AUS)
Measurements188 cm / 72 kg
NOC Australia
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 2
Total 3


Bill Roycroft was born on a cattle farm in the foothills of Australia’s Great Dividing Range. After leaving school at the age of 14 he worked in a succession of jobs, – as a breaker of wild horses, rabbit trapper, bicycle messenger, fruit packer, sheep shearer and farm labourer, – until he joined the Australian Army on the outbreak of war. He saw wartime service in New Guinea and at the end of the war was given a grant of farmland by the Australian government. He bought horses to work the farm and began to compete at local equestrian events. Slowly he built up his string of horses and began to achieve success, first locally then at national level. Overlooked for the 1956 Games he was already 45 when he made his Olympic debut in Rome but what happened there made him a legend in Australian sport.

The other three members of the Australian team had excelled on the cross-country phase of the three day event and filled the first three places in the individual event with only the show jumping phase to follow. The Aussies lead in the team event was so large that each of the three could knock every fence down and still win with ease. Rycroft however was in hospital after a crashing fall had left him with concussion, severe bruising and a broken collarbone. His Olympic Games was believed to be over.

On the morning of the show jumping phase Brian Crago’s horse was found to be lame and, as three of the team had to finish the event to win a medal, Australia’s hope’s of a team medal appeared to be over.

On hearing this news Roycroft, against medical orders, discharged himself from hospital and helped by a course of pain killing injections and a pint of beer. He was lifted by his teammates onto his horse and, with the use of only his left arm to control his horse, proceeded to jump a flawless round and ensure an Australian victory. Amazingly this was merely the start of Roycroft’s Olympic career and he competed at the next four celebrations winning two further bronze medals in the team event. His last medal, won on his final Games appearance in 1976, came when he was 61 years of age.

The Roycroft family’s relationship with the Olympic Games was not restricted to Bill’s exploits and sons Wayne, Barry and James all competed alongside their father on Australian teams. Later Wayne’s wife Vicki also became an Olympian.

In 2000 the 85 year old Bill Roycroft had the honour of being one of the eight great Australian champions to carry the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1960 Summer Olympics Equestrian Eventing (Equestrian) AUS Bill Roycroft
Individual, Men (Olympic) Our Solo 11
Team, Men (Olympic) Our Solo / Australia 1 Gold
1964 Summer Olympics Equestrian Eventing (Equestrian) AUS Bill Roycroft
Individual, Open (Olympic) Eldorado 7
Team, Open (Olympic) Eldorado / Australia 7
1968 Summer Olympics Equestrian Eventing (Equestrian) AUS Bill Roycroft
Individual, Open (Olympic) Warrathoola 15
Team, Open (Olympic) Warrathoola / Australia 3 Bronze
1972 Summer Olympics Equestrian Eventing (Equestrian) AUS Bill Roycroft
Individual, Open (Olympic) Warrathoola 6
Team, Open (Olympic) Warrathoola / Australia 4
1976 Summer Olympics Equestrian Eventing (Equestrian) AUS Bill Roycroft
Individual, Open (Olympic) Version 16
Team, Open (Olympic) Version / Australia 3 Bronze

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1968 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony AUS Bill Roycroft

Olympic family relations

Special Notes