Was it really twenty one years ago that Sydney hosted the Olympic Games?
The photograph at left confirms that in the year 2000 I was a true Olympic nerd! The only previous time Australia had hosted the Games was in 1956, when I was five. I remember we held our own hilarious version at kindergarten. Little girls like me all wanted to be the ‘Golden Girl’ at Melbourne, Betty Cuthbert. What a star!
Now don’t laugh, but I honestly thought I looked rather wonderful in my Sydney Olympic get-up. My husband Rob and I went along to the athletics, hockey, basketball, soccer, and equestrian events. We also attended numerous events at the Paralympics, including the exciting wheelchair rugby.. When it was all over I waved my flag at the athletes’ parade and at the thank-you parade for the volunteers. And then…nothing! My life was so empty I was tempted to call the official Olympic withdrawal counselling service. Yes, they actually had one.
A PERSONAL CONTRIBUTION
In the lead-up to the Games I was asked by Susan Kurasawa, then travel editor of The Australian, to write a humorous piece for the occasion. I’m not good at writing on demand and was really struggling until something quite different to my intended piece bubbled to the surface. It took the form of newly arrived tourists calling a talk-back radio host.
A cartoon accompanying the published piece suggested that the announcer was feeding his caller complete Bull****!
Here is a brief extract:-
Q – Hello. I arrived here from the UK five days ago. My suitcases are going to be forwarded to me as soon as they are located at the airport, but I have a question on behalf of other visitors. Why don’t carriages on the new airport-to-city rail link have space for stowing luggage?
A – Don’t worry, it was originally an oversight by our beleaguered City Rail Authority, but for once everything turned out perfectly. No-one has left the airport with a suitcase since Mascot installed its new computerised baggage handling system.
Q – Oh, I see. Another question if I may? I’m often pushed aside when I try to catch buses and trains out to Homebush Bay, and locals seem to be the worst offenders. Why can’t people wait in line instead of charging the doors so rudely?
A – It’s not rudeness, it’s just our enthusiasm and zest for life, which does pay dividends on the sporting field. If you Brits were not such polite queuers you would be far more successful at contact sports. By the way, while you are in Sydney you may notice that athletic endeavor forms part of our daily life.
Q – Really, how do you mean?
A – Well, when we disembark from harbour ferries we don’t just stand around waiting for the gangplank – we jump off. Some people are really ambitious and make a flying leap for the Quay when the ferry has scarcely passed Ford Denison.
Q – I didn’t think Australians were particularly good at the long jump?
A – We’re not, but we’re bloody good at swimming!
Q – Well, that’s true. A final query, if I may? It seems that finding an extra 20 cents for the Bridge toll is causing horrendous traffic jams. Wouldn’t it have been sensible to delay the rise until after the Olympics?
A – Don’t blame the toll increase; there’s a temporary speed limit on the Bridge. It’s a special safety measure as all the bolts have been loosened in preparation for a spectacular finale to the Games. At dawn on the final day, cranes will invert the bridge to form a giant smile and the national anthem will be played in tribute to our gold medallists.
We’re not good at remembering the words, but after all those medal ceremonies we should be OK. As the flag dips into the harbour we could just sing the most appropriate lines;
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
‘Excuse me, but isn’t that the US national anthem?’
‘Is it? Are you sure, mate? Oh BUGGER….well we did hear that a lot!