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Surf Life Saving NSW is saddened to hear of the passing of Australian Olympian, surf sport legend and former Maroubra SLSC Life Member Dennis Green OAM earlier this week.

He was 87.

Dennis’s talent on the water was apparent from the moment he pulled on the Maroubra cap as a 15-year-old in 1946, quickly proving a master on the ski, at the time, as it is now regarded as one of the more difficult disciplines to conquer.

His was a familiar face on the sport circuit that included another Maroubra lifesaver by the name of Wally Brown, and throughout his outstanding career in surf life saving, he won eight Australian Open Double Ski championships and two Australian Open Single Ski titles.

Had he retired from surf life saving following his success on the national stage he would still be regarded in the very top echelon of Australian ski paddlers, but Green’s insatiable drive would not be satisfied and he would scale even greater heights in another water sport.

In 1956 television arrived in the land down under just in time for the greatest sports festival in the world and two Maroubra lifesavers would be in the thick of the action in the Victorian capital.

On the waters of Lake Wendouree in Ballarat, Wally Brown and Green teamed up to contest the K2 10000 at the Olympic Games in a home-made canoe and stunned the world by claiming bronze in a time of 43 minutes 43.2 seconds behind the German pairing of Fritz Briel and Theo Kleine, and Hungary’s  Janos Uranyi and Laszlo Fabian.

As they stood on the podium Brown and Green became the first Australians to medal in canoeing, the only non-Europeans to medal in the discipline at the ’56 games and participants in the last ever K2 10000 as it would not be held in subsequent years.

But that wouldn’t be the end of Green’s Olympic journey. He would go on to compete in Rome, Tokyo, Mexico City, and Munich where he became the first Australian athlete to compete in five games.

In his final appearance at The Games he was honoured as the flag bearer for the Australian team, leading the green and gold into the stadium for the opening ceremony.

He won many medals and Australian Championships as a competitor all the way through to Masters events, and would stay heavily involved as a coach and mentor in canoeing for generations of athletes.

Dennis was never far from the ocean either, becoming a member of Kurrawa SLSC in Queensland when work took him north.

For his achievements in sport Dennis was honoured in multiple Halls of Fame.

Throughout his life he received the AOC Order of Merit (1978), an Order of the Member of Australia (OAM) and a British Empire Medal (BEM).

In 1979 he was inducted into the NSW Hall of Champions, just under a decade later he became an Australian Sports Hall of Fame member.

He was made a member of the Paddle Australia Hall of Fame in 2017 and his name is also honoured on the Surfing Walk of Fame at his beloved Maroubra beach.

Dennis Green is the first Australian to be honoured in the Hall of Fame for two sports.

For his contribution to surf life saving he was made a Life Member of Maroubra SLSC and of SLSA.

“Dennis Green is a true champion of the Maroubra surf club and is arguably one of, if not the greatest competitor we have ever produced,” said current club President Danny Donohoe.

“He was a friend and mentor to many and constantly inspired everyone he came into contact with, even during his battle with illness.

“Although work took him north he always maintained his love of the surf club and Maroubra where it all began for him. He will be missed.”

Vale Dennis Green OAM

A life well lived.

SLSNSW would like to extend sympathies to the family and many friends of Dennis Green at this sad time. Information about a memorial service will be published on the Maroubra SLSC Website when advised.

Dennis Green OAM (right) celebrates his induction on the Surfing Walk of Fame

Thursday 6 September 2018