Australian swimmer, Shane Gould, competes in the second session of the NSW Championships at North Sydney Pool, 8 January 1972.SMH Picture by P. MOXHAM720108/35Wonderful, that both Evonne Goolagong-Cawley and Shane Gould were named in the Australia Day Honours List yesterday, with Evonne becoming an Companion of the Order of Australia, (AC) and Shane becoming a Member of the Order of Australia (AM,) both for their services to their communities, even well beyond sport.
The two, go back a long way and reached their highest points of fame at much the same time, with Evonne winning her first Wimbledon championship in 1971, just before Shane won her three Olympic gold medals at the Munich Games the following year. I would also argue that both have a kind of regal serenity about them, a noted capacity to be ever calm, no matter the tumult around, and, not surprisingly, they are firm friends!
Which brings me to my favourite story about them, confirmed to me by both women, about a decade ago. See, back in late 1972 a famous photo was taken of them in the pool together for a charity function, which both cherish. Fast forward three decades, and they both found themselves at an Indigenous Community sports camp held beside Uluru to encourage the most talented Aboriginal sports kids from across the nation.
When each woman had said her bit to the gathering and they were relaxing with the kids, Shane noticed that Evonne had racquets and balls in her car and had an idea.
“Thirty years ago you swam with me,” she said, “and now I want to play tennis with you.”
With which, Shane traced out in the red soil the outline of a court, poked in a few sticks to serve as the net, and they played for about 20 minutes in the shadow of the Rock, with 50 laughing Aboriginal kids chasing the balls. No press, no nonsense. Just two great Australian sportswomen going at it as the sun beat down.
True story, told to me by Evonne.
And it remains my favourite yarn, and image, from the Australian Sporting Dreamtime.???
Horn’s heroics mask bigger issue
Which brings us, of course to the Jeff Horn fight.
Of course, given my rant in these pages the previous week, saying in an enlightened world we can no longer sustain supporting a sport where the highest attainment is to damage the brain of your opponent, I took a little flak.
How dare you, ran one notably non sequitur argument, deny the skill and courage of boxers? I do no such thing. Their courage and skill is beyond dispute. That is not the issue. What counts is the horrifying consequences of getting regularly hammered in the head. Long after the carnival is over, boxers and their families pay their own price, and it goes for miserable decades. The last boxer as high as Horn in the public esteem for his ability to take punishment, was Jeff Harding, and to a lesser extent, Spike Cheney. Their lives in recent years have been nothing less than tragic, as it is for so many who, simply, get hit in the head too often.
The other, predictable flak, comes from those who maintain – blah, blah, blah – that concussion is also a problem in rugby, so what the hell am I on about? This. Look to the example of Sonny Bill Williams, who is a champion in both sports. In boxing, he rattles someone’s brain, he is a hero to beat them all, because he has achieved boxing’s highest attainment. In rugby, he rattles someone’s brain, he is shown the red card, as he was last week against the Lions. I think that is a fair old difference, yes?
Bravo to Dane Swan
Look, I wouldn’t know the former AFL bad boy star Dane Swan to kick him down the stairs, and I actually wouldn’t dare, unless three or four you come with me and . . .
And OK, no takers, I see!
For, you’re right, there is a glaring menace about Collingwood’s one-time Brownlow Medallist, a sense that he’d just as soon punch you in the face as shake your hand and, somehow or other, the fact that he has run out of skin on his arms and rippling, muscular torso to put fresh tattoos on, gives him the appearance of embodying Aussie bloke machismo. And I wasn’t watching I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here – HONEST! – I just happened to be flicking around at the right moment when …
When I saw Steve Price expressing his usual pre-1952 views, this one against the very idea that same sex marriage would, could, or should get up in Australia.
Full of surprises: Dane Swan with Casey Donovan and Natalie Bassingthwaighte. Photo: Nigel Wright
Pan across to Dane Swan, lying on his bunk, bored. OK. Let’s hear from Aussie machismo, I suppose. Surely he will express some gay slur, some sneer.
I was only half-right.
For while Swan did sneer, it wasn’t at the concept of Same Sex Marriage, it was at Price for holding, and promoting such backward views. And to be fair to Swan it wasn’t even really a dinkum sneer, it was more that he was gobsmacked that anyone could think there could be a problem with it!
“I certainly have no qualms if anyone wants to get married to a male, female, whoever they want to get married to,” he explained, “I couldn’t give a hoot. I can’t see why it’s not legal in this day and age that two people can’t get married to each other.”
The Same Sex Marriage crowd had just released a television advertising campaign, asking people to write to parliamentarians and tell them to get on with it – and it was a great ad. But public figures like Swan, saying stuff like that, as wider Australia watched was even more valuable. Good on him. And good on Johnathan Thurston, in a similar vein, speaking out about changing the date of Australia Day.
Time to pull our heads out of the water bucket
How old am I? I am so old, soooooo old, I remember when Australian swimmers only had to dip a toe in chlorinated water and they started growing gold medals on their chest! I remember when all it took for Kieren Perkins to beat American swimmers was to frown at them in the change-rooms, whereupon they’d burst into tears. And, yes, I can even remember when the World Swimming Championships were a big deal, with Ray Warren calling every race – “Hackett! Hackett! Hackett is world champion, I’ll tell a men he is!” – and they kept the Australian National Anthem on fast forward as they had to get through it so many times.
They are, of course, days long gone, and after these latest World Championships in Budapest – where our mob secured just a single gold medal, Australian swimming has not been at such a low ebb since the 1976 Montreal Olympics when Stephen Holland managed to get a bronze medal only.
Dominant: Kieren Perkins. Photo: Photographer Unknown
It is part of swimming folklore that when, shortly afterwards, the then Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, got the exhausted and bitterly disappointed Queenslander on the phone to congratulate him for getting at least that, Holland uttered just two words. The first of them rhymed with “buck”, and the second one was “off” – so annoyed was he with the lack of government support for his endeavours, all while he was up against swimmers from the college system of America, and the professionally prepared, and drugged, swimmers of the Eastern Bloc. It was that outburst which was the genesis of the whole AIS system.
But this time? There appears nowhere to go. The swimming program is well-funded and our swimmers cannot complain of lack of support. The simple reality is that not only has the rest of the world caught up, some of them have lapped us. And the real problem, as Australian swimming tries to find its way back? We gotta face it: in itself, the sport is not the most compelling of spectacles. It’s been fabulous over the years watching the likes of Perkins, Hackett, Thorpe and O’Neill motor down competitors over the final lap – but watching their heirs come second, third and seventh just doesn’t quite do it for us. I wish I cared more. Maybe it’s that, having seen the mental anguish so many of our champion swimmers go through in later life – having spent “six hours a day every day, with my head in a bucket of water,” as Perkins put it to me – I’m less fussed if the sport does recede a little. What they said
Johnathan Thurston, on why the date of Australia Day should change: “It’s not just about the First Fleet, it’s about the stealing of the land, the misplacement of the stolen generation and the injustices that were done over the years so there is a lot of hurt that is still there from our elders. Australia Day is meant to be inclusive of everyone but obviously some in our culture don’t feel included on this day. I think people need to be educated on why they don’t feel included on this day.”
American player of tennis, Tennys Sandgren, on whether he believes in the likes of American white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes, whose stuff he has retweeted. “As a firm Christian, I don’t support things like that, no. I support Christ and following him.” The Christ I remember from Sunday School would have nothing to do with such vile bile. And nor would he amplify, by retweeting transparently false and bilious nonsense about Hillary Clinton being linked to a child sex abuse ring at a Washington pizzeria.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, after his side upset the Minnesota Vikings. “We’re going to the Super Bowl!. We’re going to the stinkin’ Super Bowl!” They will be playing the New England Patriots, led by Tom Brady.
One of the twitterati on Nick Kyrgios’s tennis outfit. “Like an All-Sorts Licorice threw up.” I rather liked it!
Interesting outfit: Nick Kyrgios. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Kyrgios, back in May, channels Perry Mason at the French Open as he argues with the umpire: “If I was speeding and you don’t catch me, where is the evidence?” And if I ran over Schroeder’s cat, while speeding, but no one saw me, would I still be guilty? And if a man was arguing in the forest, with his wife not there to hear him, would he still be wrong? Still, Kyrgios in this last week or so has been vastly more mature.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino: “There are a lot of fake news and alternative facts about FIFA circulating. FIFA bashing has become a national sport in some countries. It was right but FIFA has changed now.” Calling public criticism “fake news” has become the knee-jerk reaction for fools and demagogues the world over. Discuss.
NRL’s chief medical officer Dr Paul Bloomfield: “The game’s concussion guidelines are stronger than they have ever been before.” He is correct. The next step is making sure they become actual RULES, and are rigorously observed.
Early in the season, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick saw his team go from 5-0 start, to 5-3 with three narrow losses, but was not fussed: “There is an art [to closing out matches], there is no doubt about that. In 2012 we had a similar patch. This side, many people will see, it has got some inexperience in it. We just need to make sure we get that a little bit better.” They did, and won the Premiership, in thrilling fashion.
Josh Caddy on Richmond winning the flag: “How it happens is pretty irrelevant. At the end of the day we’ve won a flag and that’s all that matters. I was thinking to myself a few times, ‘Am I really in a grand final?’ . . . We’ve done that so well. The critics said all year, ‘too small, no depth’, but at the end of the day – ‘too good’.”
Josh Dugan on leaving St George, who had thrown him a lifeline when no-one else would, on joining the Sharks: “Everyone talks about loyalty but at the end of the day loyalty won’t pay the bills when you’re 40.” Dugan is a mesmerising player to watch, like Hayne, but on balance just too much trouble follows him to be worth it. Like Hayne. Team of the year
Liz Ellis. Was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Australian Day Honours List, together with the cricket player and administrator Belinda Clark, AM, while our most successful female professional golfer, Karrie Webb, now also an AM, as is the finest female squash player we’ve ever produced, Heather McKay.
Primary Club Marathon Cricket Day. 9th annual event run by the Primary club happening this Monday at the SCG. Sports Celebrity All-Star T20 match featuring the likes of George Gregan, Stirling Mortlock, Phil Waugh, Steve Menzies, Bryan Fletcher and Brett Kirk happening at 4.30pm. Entry free for kids; $10 for adults.
Roger Federer. Is he great, or is he great? He is GREAT. Going into the semi-finals, he had not dropped a set.
Bert Van Marwijk. The Flying Dutchman who coached Saudi Arabia to World Cup qualification is the new Socceroos coach. I am told I am not allowed to ask him ANY questions!
Sam Kerr. Matilda superstar named Young Australian of the Year
RIP Graeme Langlands. Rugby League immortal passed away 76, suffering dementia. In this same week it has been revealed that his fellow Immortal and team-mate, Johnny Raper is also suffering dementia so badly he is in care, and now no longer recognises friends. True, many men who never played football also suffer dementia, but few so badly it kills them, or confines them. The obvious question thus bugs: was it their years of playing rugby league that did this to them?
Katherine Kirk. The Australian golfer won for the first time in 152 events on the LPGA tour.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲培训.