Athlete and coaching visionary passes away
JUNE Ferguson, nee Maston, one of Australia's greatest athletics coaches and an Olympic silver medallist, has died at Tweed Hospital, aged 76, after a long battle with motor neurone disease.
June won a silver medal at the 1948 London Olympics in the 4x100 yards relay. She also competed in the long jump at the '48 Games.
June and her running mates - Shirley Strickland, Joyce King and Betty McKinnon - made up the first women's relay team to represent Australia.
June was an athletics coach in Sydney from the 1950s until she retired in 1988. Her athletes, including Betty Cuthbert, won more than 200 NSW State titles, set 16 world records and won five Olympic gold medals.
She accompanied the Australian Olympic team for many years, as sprint coach, was an ABC radio and television commentator, helped establish Little Athletics and was awarded an MBE for services to sport in 1967.
June retired to the Gold Coast about 10 years ago and carried the torch in her wheelchair in the torch relay for the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
She had been at the Amaroo Nursing Home, Tweed Heads, for the past four years.
She passed away last Friday, December 3. Her funeral today at St Cuthbert's Anglican Church, Tweed Heads, at 2pm (NSW) is expected to be well attended with Olympians and sports identities, including Glynnis Nunn among those paying their respects.
June grew up in Sydney and attended Sydney University. She competed for the Western Suburbs Women's Amateur Athletic Club as an all-rounder, winning the NSW 440 yards title from 1946-48.
She met her future husband, Jack Ferguson, in London at the '48 Olympics. Jack was competing in the Australian water polo team. After they married the couple lived in Epping in Sydney. Jack, a builder, passed away about 12 years ago.
June is survived by her children Ian, Jerry, Fiona, Megan and Debbie and their families.
Eldest daughter Fiona Bailey said: "She was a wonderful mother and such a dynamic, effervescent person, always doing something.
"As we grew up, mum was always involved with athletics."
Another daughter, Megan Middleton, lives at Kingscliff with husband Dave, who owns a transport business. They have three chil- dren.