Great Scot Archive
Issues from 1998
Issues from 1998
 
 
 
 

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The Olympic build up

Olympic Memories

1976 Montreal - Chris Commons - Long Jump

My main memory is of the excitement of the Games. The excitement that came with selection in the Australian team, the anticipation of competition amongst athletes in the Olympic village and the buzz that spread throughout the city as tens of thousands of visitors arrived.

The Games still bring back vivid memories - of people thronging the exits of the village and practice venues seeking autographs and pins; of bunting, banners, music and foreign accents in crowded city streets; and of tourists taking photographs of each other in the main stadium, oblivious to the sprint final in progress on the track below.

I recall standing in a breakfast queue with the gold medallist of the day before, Nadia Comaneci, the first gymnast to earn a perfect score of 10. And sharing the disappointment of Raelene Boyle, who was disqualified at the start of her 200 metre sprint semi-final. Finally, after the intensity of the competitions, I recall the emotion of the closing ceremony when the flame was extinguished and the Olympic flag was lowered until four years on.

Chris Commons

Bob Lachal

Christopher Commons
Bob Lachal

1964 Tokyo - Bob Lachal - Rower

It was a cold brisk morning on 7.00 a.m. Saturday 22nd July.

Olympic torches were distributed, running numbers allocated, and we boarded the bus for the drop off to our route marker.

On the bus we were instructed on how to operate the torch and introduced ourselves to each other.

At the drop off point my family and friends were waiting. It was now 8.30 a.m. and had turned into a beautifully clear morning, surrounded by plush green dairy pasture with Lake Colac in the distance.

My allocated run was in the very small hamlet of Pirron Yallock (one pub - no store) where I was to hand over the flame in front of the local pub.

As the torch approached I reflected back to the opening ceremony in Tokyo in 1964; where, as a privileged young competitor, I had watched the torch run into the area totally overcome by the experience.

The flame was exchanged and I started my 1km run. My friends all joined in and jogged with me on the side of the road. The whole experience was just a great buzz. It was all over in a flash and I handed the flame over in front of the hostelry where we all adjourned for breakfast.

1956 Melbourne - Bob Grant - Javelin Thrower

My first great experience, after being named in the Australian team, was the people I met at the Olympic Village - Australians from the other sports and the overseas athletes.

Bob Grant To meet with legends such as Emil Zatopek - who would talk to anyone who would jog around the track with him, to Jesse Owens, who was here as a UNO representative and many of the then world champions.

I had the pleasure of driving three big men - Australia's shot putter Barry Donath, USA's world champion Parry O'Brien and Italy's Olympic champion discus thrower Adolpho Consolini, to Olympic Park, but found on our return that one of the rear springs of my old car had collapsed.

My favourite memory was when I defeated the then world javelin record holder, Janucz Sidlo in a throwing event - a game of darts at the Olympic village - pity it wasn't an Olympic event!

Of course the roar of the crowd at the Opening Ceremony, the excitement of seeing the many great performances of Betty Cuthbert, Shirley Strickland and Chilla Porter.

The Games were certainly friendly which was reinforced by athletes mixing together for the first time in the Closing Ceremony 'march' past.

I am still enjoying memorable moments as an Olympian and the contact with friends made and the recent Sydney torch relay.

My wife Judy and I will be working as volunteers at the Sydney Games - Judy as a host in the dining room at the athletes village while I will be a host for all the events in the Main Stadium.

Updated: Monday 24 June 2013