By Tyneal Palmer
Perth musician Matthew de la Hunty, son of the late Australian Olympian Shirley Strickland, is hoping to organise a new feature film based on his mother’s athletic triumph.
Matthew has drawn inspiration for the movie length film from the 1955 Warsaw Sports Festival in which Shirley won the women’s 100-metres.
“I just started to get interested in what had actually happened, particularly about her breaking the world record in Poland in 1955,” said Matthew.
“I grew up with these trophies, and I always thought well it wasn’t an Olympic year, and it wasn’t until towards the end of her life she [Shirley] said ‘oh that’s when I broke the world record in the 100m’.”
Not following his mother into an athletic career, Matthew wants to capture the political hurdles his mother had to jump to compete in the Polish event, after the Athletics Union of Australasia told her she wasn’t allowed to compete in national colours.
“She’d been invited by the Polish Athletics Association, and then I recently saw press articles about her suspected of being a communist,” said Matthew.
Sports Broadcaster Glenn Mitchell believes that given the revolutionary athlete she was, the interest in a film about Shirley’s life would be substantial.
“Her standing in Australian sport, seven Olympic medals, three of them gold, she was one of the first women to put Australian sport on the international stage,” said Glenn.
Hoping to gain funding within the next year, Matthew says the film is the story of a struggle and, in the end, the ultimate triumph.
“The fact she’s behind the Iron Curtain, running for WA, and breaks the world record is quite an incredible story I think,” said Matthew.
“Now that she’s gone and now that I’m a grown-up myself, you process these things differently, and I can see now that she inspired a lot of people.”