A world authority on swimming and Australia's best known Olympic Coach.
Laurie Lawrence, The Former Australian Rugby Union Representative and Olympic and World Champion Swim coach was born and bred in Townsville, tropical North Queensland.
His father was for many years the popular publican of the Railway Hotel and he later became the owner/operator of the famous Tobruk pool on Townsville's foreshore.
These environments were instrumental in the development of one of Australia's best known personalities. In fact, growing up in the popular "waterhole", The Railway Hotel no doubt played a role in the development of Laurie's larrakin humour and his passion for mateship and it is easy to see what effect childhood at the Tobruk Pool played in Laurie's future.
There would be few, who did know of Laurie Lawrence or his spirited personality, his sense of humour or his zest for life. For those who know him well there would be no disputing that his manner is direct, sincere and honest. Whatever Laurie is involved in, he gives all of himself. He cares deeply about the people he influences and he refuses to rest until he has achieved his best.
Laurie has been claimed as one of Australia's favourite sons, who is admired by many Australians, from little children who attend his coaching clinics to International Corporate Leaders who look to him for inspiration and new ideas. Swim coaching has played an important part in Laurie's life. He was able to balance his time around the pool with his studies, which resulted in Laurie achieveing a Bachelor of Arts Degree from North Queensland's James Cook University, a Teaching Diploma in Physical Education from Queensland University, and a Teaching Diploma from Kelvin Grove College of Advanced Education.
These qualifications have served Laurie and his pupils admirably during his coaching career.
As a youngster Laurie, who lived on the support of one lung battled with asthma, a debilitating illness for people with healthy lungs, let alone for those people with only one. Nevertheless, displaying typical grit and determination, Laurie fought for and gained a place as half back in the Australian Wallaby Rugby Union Team, which toured New Zealand in 1964. Laurie Lawrence has represented Australia in World Championships and Commonwealth and Olympic Games as a coach. In the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane (1982) and Edinburgh (1986) and the Olympics Games in Los Angeles (1984) and Seoul (1988) Laurie's pupils were standout performers. They succeeded in breaking many National, Commonwealth and World Records in a number of their gold medal winning performances. Lawrence proteges, Jon Sieben - Los Angeles 1984 and Duncan Armstrong - Seoul 1988, both won Olympic gold medals for Australia. Jon Sieben's victory came in the men's 200 metre butterfly and Duncan Armstrong took out the men's 200 metre freestyle final in World Record time. Another Lawrence pupil and world record holder, Judy Young, won Para-Olympic gold for Australia when she was victorious in the special sectionof her 400 metre freestyle event in Seoul in 1988.
Other world-renowned Lawrence champions include Steven Holland and Tracy Wickham. Holland, Australia's 1500 metre freestyle Champion of the Seventies set many world records during his career and won an Olympic bronze medal in the men's 1500 metre final at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. While, Wickham, by the time she retired in 1982, she was regarded as one of Australia's greatest ever women swimmers, Tracey, had won 2 World Cup, 4 Commonwealth Games individual gold medals and held numerous world records over distances such as the 400, 800 and 1500 metres. The last of these records took the best swimmers in the world nine years to break.
During his distinguished career, Laurie has been honoured with many awards. In 1988 he was voted All Sports "National Coach of the Year" in the Sports Australia Awards conducted by the prestigious Confederation of Australian Sports.
Australia Day 1989 saw the Prime Minister of Australia, the Right Honourable R.J.L. Hawke, AC, MP, present Laurie with an Australian Achievers Award to honour his selection by the National Australia Day Council as an Australian of the Year finalist. A rare honour indeed! Following this, the Governor of Queensland, Sir Walter Campbell, presented Laurie with the Advance Australia Award during a ceremony at Government House in Brisbane.
The business world and the competitive sports arena make similar demands for high individual achievement, which explains why Laurie today is one of the most sought-after motivational speakers in Australia. To many, Laurie represents the beloved Aussie larrakin who loves an audience and a stage, but this is only a tiny glimpse of the man. He sets his goals and encourages those within his influence to work towards personal perfection. He is a True Australian in Heart, Mind and Soul.