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Sydney Olympic Games. Gold stories...

Updated on April 15, 2014
Cathy Freeman at the important moment of lighting the Olympic Flame.  A story in itself...
Cathy Freeman at the important moment of lighting the Olympic Flame. A story in itself...
Me salivating at the fact I held an Olympic Torch
Me salivating at the fact I held an Olympic Torch

The winner is Sydney

Australia found out that we had won the bid to host the Summer Games of 2000 in September 1993. This was a huge coup for Australia at the time especially Sydney. The winning of the bid revitalised Sydney from the word go. Each time I visited Sydney from Queensland which was several times a year at the time the atmosphere was palpable. Seven years out signs were appearing that we were about to host the Olympic Games. Of course new buildings was being put up. But more importantly there was optimism in the air. People had more spring in their step. Work was being carried out to beautify the inner city. For instance park benches were being replaced with new ones. Street furniture and sculptures were being positioned in public spaces. This is in addition to the massive stadium projects that were under commission.


Cath Freeman minutes after the 400 metre Gold medal win
Cath Freeman minutes after the 400 metre Gold medal win

Sydney

Even here in Queensland about 1000 miles from Sydney the atmosphere was different. At the time I was living on the Gold Coast and already athletes were upping the anti with their training in order to make and qualify for the Olympic trials.

Following Suzie O'Neill Success in the pool in Atlanta a number of promotional fundraising lunches & dinners were organised by SOCOG and Suzie's major sponsor the Westpac Bank. In April 1998 a lunch at the Southport Yacht Club with guest speaker Suzie O'Neill became quite memorable. Suzie O’Neill arrived unconventionally in the Westpac Rescue helicopter from Brisbane and was greeted with a rousing reception from the Yacht Club audience. You have to remember that this was prior to her Olympic gold’s success in the pool.

I was determined to meet her as I was and still am a huge fan of both her swimming prowess and Suzie's personal attributes.

Well I went shopping for a suitable gift for a Olympic gold medallist and woe and behold I was looking for something resembling a butterfly. Madame Butterfly was Suzie's nickname because of the success she has with the butterfly swimming stroke.

Well a friend John Calleja who had a prestige jewellery store suggested a brooch with a butterfly on it in gold. Well I knew that she was in a relationship with a man and me though that sort of present would be inappropriate in the circumstances. I was shopping in David Jones and came across a display table with glass objects on it. Well there it was a Waterford Crystal paperweight resembling a butterfly. So that was it! Considered sold.

Of course Suzie was wrapped with a gift from a stranger but she went on to win gold at the Sydney Olympics and the rest as they say is history...

Circular quay facing Sydney Cove & Sydney Harbour Bridge during the 2000 Olympics
Circular quay facing Sydney Cove & Sydney Harbour Bridge during the 2000 Olympics | Source
Circular quay facing Sydney Cove & Sydney Harbour Bridge during the 2000 Olympics
Circular quay facing Sydney Cove & Sydney Harbour Bridge during the 2000 Olympics | Source

According to Alan Hubberd of the UK Newspaper The Independent.

GOLD: Sydney

Of the 10 Olympics Games I have covered, Sydney in 2000 was simply the best, in every respect. The organisation, the ambience, the weather, the facilities, and above all the friendliness of the Aussies themselves. Every Olympic visitor was greeted with a cheery "G'day" and made to feel welcome by volunteers who were genuinely proud to be hosting a family show. Of course it helped that everyone spoke English but for sheer getting-it-togetherness Sydney surpassed any previous Games. It is one of the world's great sporting citadels and unlike in many other cities where the Games have been staged in half-empty stadia, their fans had a true appreciation of what they were watching, and if they did not always know the nuances of taekwondo, Greco-Roman wrestling or artistic gymnastics, what the heck, they cheered anyway. And the beach volleyball on Bondi was a sight to behold.

The Millennium Games were also a turning point in Olympic history, for none better represented the emancipation of women's sport and an ethnic race than the iconic performance of Aborigine Cathy Freeman in winning the 400 metres. It was a symbolic victory before a crowd of 102,254, the largest ever at a Games, marking her country's 100th gold medal. Britain went gold-prospecting, too, from the moment cyclist Jason Queally won on the opening day to modern pentathlete Steph Cook and super-heavyweight boxer Audley Harrison on the last, via the oar-some Steve Redgrave's epic fifth gold medal in successive Games. Eleven golds in all, Britain's best for more than half a century. Beijing, where government money seems no object, may put on a flashier, more expansive extravaganza but they will have to go some to beat Sydney's style.

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    • tecv.survivor17 profile image

      tecv.survivor17 8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      As the grandson of the 10 time gold medal winner, Ray Ewry, I have been a dedicated follower, researcher and writer of the Olympics and I must say that the Sydney Games were the most beautifully produced Games I have seen. Jim McKay, of ABC Wide World of Sports and the best commentator with the Games, told me he felt the same. You might look for my book on Ray Ewry and his bout with Polio before going on to win 10 gold medals in the standing jumps from 1900 through 1908 (4 Olympics including 1906)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We attended Olympic events in Barcelona, Spain. Have written about our experiences there. Can only imagine the excitement and transformation that would take place in a city near where one lives!

    • barryrutherford profile image
      Author

      Barry Rutherford 8 years ago from Queensland Australia

      The Happy memories will last my life time !

    • wesleycox profile image

      wesleycox 8 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      I could only imagine the excitement of hosting an Olympic games in or near your hometown. This helped me visualize just that. Great story.

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