Max Baldwin

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameMaxwell Allen "Max"•Baldwin
Used nameMax•Baldwin
Born4 January 1928 in Ballina, New South Wales (AUS)
Affiliations?, New South Wales, (AUS)
NOC Australia


Max Baldwin was born in Balina, New South Wales and was one of four children. His father was a cook. Stricken by polio before the age of two and paralysed in both legs and one arm, he underwent treatment at the children’s hospital in Sydney where he spent three months. He eventually began to walk with the use of crutches at the urgence of Sister Elizabeth Kenny, who he met while in treatment for his polio.

Baldwin began attending primary school at the age of seven, and moved to Sydney during his teen years where he initially became involved in sports. Following his sister and brothers, who were professional gymnasts and acrobats, he also took up the sport and was a member of the successful New South Wales YMCA team which won a state title. In 1950, he also won a New South Wales individual championship in Free Arms and Roman rings. Hoping to add variety to his sporting endeavours, he later took up squash, golf, tennis and Alpine (3-track) skiing, winning a title the latter in B grade combined downhill and slalom.

Baldwin took up the sport of canoeing around 1953 and quickly found success, winning multiple Australian titles in 1,000 metres, 10,000 metres and 100 miles, eventually culminating in the opportunity to represent his country at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. There, as a member of the first ever Australian Olympic canoeing team, he competed in the singles 10,000 metres event, finishing ninth in the final. He was the first Australian with a disability to compete at the Olympic Games.

Originally a bootmaker by trade, Baldwin later worked for the local YMCA as a physical director and at the City of Sydney Police Citizens Boys’ Club in Wolloomooloo as a gymnastics instructor. A longtime resident of Malabar, New South Wales, he continued skiing at the Perisher Valley area in New South Wales till he was 75. In 1990, Baldwin was named a life member of Gymnastics NSW, and in 2014, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1956 Summer Olympics Canoe Marathon (Canoeing) AUS Max Baldwin
Kayak Singles, 10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 9

Special Notes