Suddenly a green and gold silver eldorado has been unearthed in Beijing. At this stage of the international school sports carnival we will take anything that glints.
On a sensational night of awesome Aussie action, our psychic hurdler Sally Mc Lennan produced the run of lifetime for a second step of the podium finish over the fences in the 100 meters. Sally scored in a nail biting, blanket finish that had the judges calling for the developed print. Earlier, the drought broke at the Laoshan Velodrome but it took a top ride from Anna Meares, who produced an amazing feat to recover from a big car prang to throw a leg over in Beijing and snag silver in the sprint final.
The only down-side of Anna’s sizzling silver was she lost to a rider from Great Britain, Victoria Pendelton. The Pushovers (nee Cyclones) suddenly, when all seemed lost, could enter the Village in triumph.
For those keeping score it looks as though we can dig out five more medals to take our tally to 40 but hanging on to fourth on the big board will be a trick. Where will the next neck nugget come from?
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While there is competition there is hope! Eleven medals are up for grabs today. Sadly it may be a long day in dry town for the green and gold.
Our big men, Bogut’s Boomers take to the paint tonight at 10pm. It is a quarter final clash with The Dream Team USA. We need a win to stay alive. It is being billed as David v Goliath bash up being played for the heart and soul of the Australian hoop caper. The great narrative suggests Australia are represented by a team of no names, with the arse hanging out of their long shorts up against a team of big noting billionaires with tickets on themselves. The world is licking its lips in anticipation.
A better bet for a nugget is to back The Opal Killers who flattened the Czech Republic 79-46. But the easy win may prove costly as one of our stars, Penny Taylor, did an ankle and team doctors are still conferring with puzzled brows.
Tonight in the Bird’s Nest the men’s 200 meters final featuring Usain Bolt, who only runs half the race and showboats the rest goes round in the other leg of the sprint double. Then the last event on the card Australians will watch the women’s 400m hurdle and wonder of what might have been. This was Jana Rawlinson’s gold.
And do not write off our tilt in the BMX that kicks off today. Another nugget here could be a “shot in the arm”. You write off any one called Kamakazi (our number one) at your peril.
As the sun begins to set on the Games of the 29th Olympiad, the backstage dramas are emerging as the navel gazing, the if onlys, the de briefings and reviews take over from medal competition. Australian Olympic sport knows the landscape has changed and scratches the bonce wondering what the landscape will look like in four years.
There is a funding crisis across every theatre of sport. Australia is simply not spending enough. Figures analysed today indicate that we tip 40 million large down the spout for every gold medal. The question to pose is: does any of this lolly tipped in at the top trickle down to getting fat, unfit kids on the move?
There is bugger all evidence to suggest that up top investment is paying off slimming on the nation’s bottom end. Australia bats well above its weight in the world’s obesity tables. This is something for politicians to ponder as the bids for funding filter in.
Elsewhere, Australia has suddenly realised that we are competing on a global playing field. Australian coaches, high performance experts and their secrets are being lured from our shores. They are being snapped up to ply their trade and reveal all for a fat quid by overseas countries who do not share Australian sporting values.
Our chef de mission in Beijing John Coates bellows “get used to it”. Sport, like everything else exists in a tricky international market. There is stuff all we can do about it. Australia, from now on has to be out there in that market place offerring successful coaches an even bigger quid to get behind our slows. Whatever it takes!. Mansions on the Gold Coast, V8 Monaro cars, membership of The Melbourne Club, freebie roots are a start. We are talking about winning here. This nation has to find that extra hard yard.
This story was fuelled when it was revealed Jesicca Schipper’s coach, Ken Wood had sold his hard won swimming secrets to the Chinese who beat the Australian butterfly champ. Ken, like everyone else, has to pay the power, car rego and food bills. Woodie knows you don’t get rich by dedicating your life to early morning starts, standing in the 5am gloom, at the deep end staring at a stop watch while hurling half house bricks at bludging swimmers to make them go faster and realise Olympic dreams. Ken’s secrets were hewn from the coalface of struggle. They are tried and tested. Is it any wonder the world wants them?
But if it is a global marketplace where any country can buy coaches and expertise they can also buy stars. Our talent spotters need to realise that the future of Australian middle distance running is now emerging on the hills in Kenya. The future Australian golden sprinting programme is cracking personal bests in the back streets of Kingston, Jamaica. Our first table tennis gold medalist is sitting the H.S.C. at a southern Shanghai High School. Australia needs to spot these unbelievable talents and turn up with a cheque book. None of these athletes know that in 2012 or 2106 they will be turning out in green and gold.
The other story that is getting a lot of disturbing publicity is the news of how buggered our athletes are at the start of competition, never mind the end. This is not a story that needs to be told to parents of kids who might think that Olympic sport is a good option for their couch-ridden A.D.H.D lump. These narratives are horror stories that will have parents thinking rugby league is a much safer option for young Fred.
Triathlete Brad Kahlefeldt had to endure countless needles in his side and have his hip pulled out of joint daily to make the start yesterday. After months of incredible pain he set off in the three pronger in which every step of the run was agony. Sadly Karl has one leg shorter than the other requiring an understanding of pain as the first step on the road to success.
Rower Drew Ginn, who scored gold in the pair, has a totally buggered back. He pulled his way to gold through immense pain. So buggered was the back that he was almost ruled out of competition. But he moved out of the Village into a container at the Shunyi layout because the back could not hack the daily bone shaking ride in bus.
Sometimes we are given far too much information. Australians always assume winning gold does not come easily. Athletes should be completely buggered all the time given the zany lifestyle. They lead lives that would have the ordinary in hospital for six days a week. We don’t need to be told it over an over again with every medal winner or dud. Bleating about it makes it all look far too hard.