From the Northern Star

Financial pain for Olympic legend

BYRON Bay resident and Olympic hero Herb Elliott could be $20 million poorer following the first collapse of a big Australian stockbroker in more than a decade.

The former Olympic gold medallist and Fortescue Metals Group chairman, who bought a home at Ewingsdale, Byron Bay in 2006, had $20 million worth of shares in Fortescue tied up with stockbroker Opes.

But Opes went into receivership last week amid allegations of financial irregularities, with ANZ and investment bank Merrill Lynch taking control of shares.

Mr Elliott declined to comment on the massive financial blow, which would wipe out half of his $40 million fortune.

"I'm really not interested in talking about it," he told The Northern Star.

An Olympic gold medallist, Mr Elliot has been labelled the 'greatest miler' of all time.

Along with Australian swimming matriarch Dawn Fraser, he is famed among the 1950s generation of Australian athletes and bears the staggering record of going from 1957 to 1961 without losing a single race at 1500m or one mile.

Winning the one mile race in under four minutes put Mr Elliot's name to the history books as the first teenager and only the third person in the world able to break the four-minute mile-barrier - which he continued to break another 17 times.

After retiring from the track, Mr Elliot went on to forge a successful business career and in recent years became the chairman of Fortescue Metals Group.

It is believed he offered the shares to Opes as collateral for a loan he used to exercise options over Fortescue stock.

The stockbroker collapse would have been a cruel blow to Mr Elliott, according to some media reports.

Mr Elliott has been at the forefront of building Fortescue into a $20 billion mining house and the company revealed yesterday it had renamed its Port Anderson facility at Port Hedland the 'Fortescue Herb Elliott Port' in honour of him.

Mr Elliott is believed to be looking at court action to recover his shares.

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