Australians have competed at every Olympic Games in the modern era and hosted the games in Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000.
Explore Australia's sporting history through the Museum's Olympic collection and the stories of the athletes who wear the green and gold, carrying an image of our nation onto the international stage every four years.
Discover Australia's Olympic history
Australian Olympic history
The Museum's collection tells the stories of great Australian athletes – beyond the medal wins – to encompass broader social and political changes both in Australia and overseas.
This includes Peter Norman, who stood alongside Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico City Games when they raised their fists in protest against racial discrimination in the USA.
Peter Norman, a Melbourne school teacher, won the silver medal in the 200m race at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. His time of 20.06 seconds is an Australian record that stands today.
Many thought Norman was unaware of the protest and perhaps even excluded from it, but he was a knowing and willing participant.
When gold medallist Smith and silver medallist Carlos told him of their planned protest, he said, ‘I’ll stand with you.’ In an interview after the ceremony Norman explained, ‘I believe that every man is born equal and should be treated that way.’
Shirley Strickland represented Australia at London in 1948, Helsinki in 1952 and Melbourne in 1956. She won medals at each, including gold in the 80m hurdles in 1952 and 1956, and the 4x100m relay in 1956.
Strickland remains Australia’s only track and field athlete to have won back-to-back gold medals.
After Helsinki, Strickland took a break from competition to start a family. When she returned to training for Melbourne, she was a 31-year-old mother of 2 and was widely criticised by those who thought that her age and motherhood should have marked the end of her athletic career.
Learn more about Australia's Olympic host cities
A spectacular opening ceremony, commentary from Roy and HG and brightly-dressed volunteers. Read curator Laina Hall's reflections on 20 years since the Sydney Olympics.
Learn about the advent of television in Australia, where broadcasts started just in time for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics – the first games to be held outside Europe or the United States.
Search our Olympics collection
See a Sydney Olympics torch signed by Muhammad Ali, Olympic medals, uniforms and souvenirs from Australians at Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Australian sporting history
The Museum's collection includes many other objects and stories of Australian sports stars on the world stage – from tennis champions at Wimbledon and cycling success at the Tour de France – to trans-Tasman netball matches.