AFTER THE AMAZING WIN FOR ASH BARTY AT THE FRENCH OPEN, THE HOT 91.1 TEAM REFLECT ON THEIR FAVOURITE SPORTING MOMENTS
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.