Bob Joyce 1956 Olympian – Imagine Fund

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As Bob Joyce walked onto the MCG’s red cinder track, the roar of the 1956 Olympics home crowd was deafening - but Bob barely heard a thing. At the starting blocks, he stared ahead at the 10 hurdles that stood in the way of his Olympic dream, and focussed on the finish line 110 metres ahead. It was only when he crossed the line 14.7 seconds later, behind older and more experienced racers, that the Olympian could full appreciate the magnitude of his achievements.

When Bob walked back out onto the MCG in August 2021, on the arm of his grandson Jack, the world’s eyes were instead focussed on the 2020 Tokyo Games, not on Melbourne. For Bob, though, he was returning ‘home’ – a dream made by possible by the Mercy Health Foundation Imagine Fund.

Bob, now 85 years old, is a resident at Mercy Place Colac, one of Mercy Health’s residential aged care homes. He keeps everyone at the home enthralled with tales from his days as an Olympian, National Champion and elite footballer.

Realising how much the memories of his heady days at the MCG meant to Bob, his carers approached the Mercy Health Foundation to ask if the father of three and grandfather of eight could somehow make it back to the scene of his most famous races.

The Imagine Fund made it happen.

Bob was picked up from Mercy Place Colac in a stretch limousine and driven with his carer to the MCG, where he was greeted by grandson Jack, MCG representatives and Melbourne’s media. As he walked out onto the hallowed turf, he was overwhelmed.
“It doesn’t seem as big as I remember,” Bob said. “And it’s different without the crowd. I’m lucky – I’ve been here many times, with my running and university football, and I’ve run in lots of stadiums around the world, but this one is special.”
Seeing his name on the MCG’s scoreboard one more time was a special touch.

“Welcome James ‘Bob’ Joyce, 1956 Olympian 110m hurdles,” Bob said, reading from the huge MCG scoreboard. “Wow, is that for me? Thank you.”

It certainly was for Bob. As was a tour of the 1956 Olympics exhibit at the Australian Sports Museum and lunch with his grandson, before returning to his home at Mercy Place Colac. Settling in front of the television that evening, he got to watch his story replayed on Channel 7 News.

Mercy Health Chief Executive Residential Aged Care, Home Care and Seniors Living Adj Assoc Prof Felix Pintado said it is important to dream, no matter your age.

“The Imagine Fund helps our aged care residents fulfil their dreams,” he said. “It was wonderful to see Bob back where he dared to dream when he was a young man. Taking him back there was a joy and exactly what the Imagine Fund was established to do.”

Your support can help to make the dreams of our residents a reality. Whether it is taking to the stage to play saxophone in front of a crowd one last time, or heading out fishing in a boat to relive memories formed half a century ago.

Please support the Imagine Fund and help us make our residents’ dreams come true.

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Our Imagine Fund supports aged care residents to achieve something special. By giving to the Imagine Fund, you help an older person live a long-held dream.

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