Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | OUR SAY -


My favourite sport­ing mo­ment was ac­tu­ally a whole event. I’m talk­ing about the Syd­ney 2000 Olympics. There were so many in­cred­i­ble mo­ments of the event that I’d find it re­ally hard to choose one of them. It was a per­fect time to host the Olympics be­cause we had some se­ri­ous world cham­pi­ons amongst us with Grant Hack­ett, Kieren Perkins, Ian Thorpe and my per­sonal favourite Cathy Free­man. The images of “that mo­ment” Cathy Free­man lit up the field with her 400m sprint in front of a ca­pac­ity crowd at Sta­dium Aus­tralia will stick with me for life. We had the best of the best com­pet­ing in that Olympics proven by the 58 medals we took and over­all stand­ing of fourth in the world. The sport­ing achieve­ments dur­ing that Olympics were only out­shone by the event itself. I was so proud to be Aus­tralian dur­ing that Olympics. It re­ally high­lighted how much tal­ent we have here. I loved the way it high­lighted our rich Indige­nous her­itage and did a good job of ac­knowl­edg­ing the tra­di­tional cus­to­di­ans of our land. Dur­ing the Syd­ney 2000 Olympics we hosted 198 other coun­tries, 10,651 ath­letes in 300 events and ev­ery­thing went off with­out a hitch. Well, the Olympic torch may have gone out once or twice but hey, not bad. Now don’t worry, I haven’t for­got­ten the great­est mo­ment of Aus­tralia’s great­est event. I am of course talk­ing about the discovery of 13-yearold Nikki Web­ster. Who would have thought that a young girl fly­ing over a sta­dium at the open­ing cer­e­mony singing the national an­them would set her up for life?


On Septem­ber 26, 1983, the world held its breath as Aus­tralia II sailed into the his­tory books as the first chal­lenger to break the long­est win­ning streak in sport­ing his­tory. The Amer­ica’s Cup had been held by the Yanks for 132 years and we were the first to knock them off their size­able perch. Dennis Conner skip­pered Liberty and was much vaulted as the num­ber one in the sport glob­ally. His crack crew of pro­fes­sional sailors had an air of con­fi­dence/cock­i­ness we were ea­ger to ad­just. Con­tro­versy sur­rounded our en­try as the Ben Lex­cen-de­signed 12 me­tre yacht sported a funky new keel, in the shape of a wing. The US protested and were turned down. The race was on. Af­ter los­ing the first two races, the US con­fi­dence swelled, Aus­tralia II suf­fered equip­ment fail­ure and dam­age to the boat that al­most ren­dered her un­sail­able. But with true Aussie grit, Alan Bond’s cam­paign re­ceived a boost with skipper John Ber­trand mirac­u­lously win­ning race three, al­beit by the smallest of mar­gins. To win the Cup it was the first to four vic­to­ries and we were still a long way be­hind.

Af­ter los­ing the fourth, the chips were down and ev­ery­thing pointed to the cup re­turn­ing to the New York Yacht Club. It was in the sev­enth race, that Conner’s Liberty lead up un­til the fi­nal leg, a square run, that the Aussies snuck through and suc­cess­fully cov­ered Liberty dur­ing an in­tense 50 plus tack­ing duel all the way to the fin­ish line. Aus­tralia II wins the Amer­i­cas Cup. It was a proud day to be an Aus­tralian.


It’s now a week on from one of the great­est sport­ing mo­ments that will be etched in Aus­tralian sport. We’re talk­ing about Ash Barty’s first Grand Slam win at the 2019 French Open. A hum­ble yet hard-work­ing ath­lete, Ash was the first player in 50 years, af­ter Mar­garet Court, to claim the Grand Slam ti­tle. It’s no se­cret I love sport. What I love the most about sport is th­ese mo­ments that set an ath­lete or team apart from the rest. The ex­traor­di­nary things they achieve not just phys­i­cally but men­tally. Sport is such a mind game, es­pe­cially a game like ten­nis. In the semi-fi­nals Ash Barty was down in the sec­ond set and it didn’t look like she was go­ing to do it, but she did. She got her head right and got her game back on the straight and nar­row.

I love that she was so com­posed go­ing into her first Grand Slam fi­nal. Ev­ery­thing just seemed to be busi­ness as usual. Tomic and Kyr­gois could re­ally take a leaf out of Barty’s book. You don’t have to chuck a tantrum to be able to be at the top of your game; rev­e­la­tion! So much so, that Ten­nis Aus­tralia is ac­tu­ally look­ing into the two dif­fer­ent types of ath­letes and the success of one who has their head in the game op­posed to the other type who are ex­tremely tal­ented but don’t seem to want to do the hard work. Ash Barty’s re­ac­tion at the end of her game was just amaz­ing. She didn’t let the mo­ment over­whelm her. That smile said it all. Hard work, per­se­ver­ance and de­ter­mi­na­tion. Classy, hum­ble and gra­cious.

Take a bow Ash Barty.

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