Bill Erskine Butchart was born on 15 April 1933 and was a middle-distance runner. As a 23-year-old Butchart competed in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics Games, running in the men's 800 metres where he placed eighth in the final.
Butchart grew up in Parsley Bay, where he participated in recreational races at the local social clubs. He was always a very talented runner with a naturally competitive nature, making him very successful during grammar school. From a young age, Butchart sensed that he had a natural inclination for running when he was consistently winning junior state titles and breaking records while doing it.
In 1952, at only the age of 18, Butchart ran in the qualifying races for the Helsinki Olympics. The competition at these races was a level above what Butchart was used to at the junior level and he ended up missing the qualifying times for these Olympic Games by only half of a second. While disappointed, Butchart knew his finishing time was so close, which only encouraged him to train harder.
After years of on and off training, Butchart became the best 800 metre runner in New South Wales, however between working long hours to make a living and an injury to his Achilles tendon he was forced to slow down his running career in order to keep up with the other demands of life. Even with these obstacles, Butchart’s big break finally came in 1956.
In the qualifying races for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Butchart showed up to the 880 metre trial more prepared than he has ever been. However, due to the extremely unlucky circumstance of getting boxed in during the race, Butchart finished fourth: a tremendous disappointment after years of hard work. Then, the unexpected happened where an 800 metre qualifying race was newly scheduled for the following weekend, and Butchart had the opportunity for redemption. He gave the race of his life, finishing in 1 minute and 50.03 seconds, his personal best and the overall best time that year for an Australian, sending him to the Melbourne Olympics.
After much success at the Melbourne Olympics from running in the qualifying race where he placed third and the semifinal where he placed fourth, the exhaustion took a toll on his body leaving him to place eighth in the final.
Butchart retired in 1957 after years of strain to his achilles tendon, injured him beyond repair.
His story of hard work and perseverance led him from a young boy running races with his classmates to a proud Olympic athlete, who will leave a legacy full of resilience and determination.