Sport has always been the center of attention in Australia. Australians are majorly known as sports-obsessed and they proved it in 1956 when the nation introduced the television set just to make sure the first Olympic Game on home soil in Melbourne is broadcasted. Besides taking joy in participating, Australians also love to be spectators. The Australian identity is unpolished without its chief aspects like “having a go”, “Fair Play”, “Punching above our weight”, “triumph in the face of adversity”, and “sport as social leveller”. These are not just the aspects of Australian identity, in fact, these are the values that sum up the whole nation, that represent who they are, either on or off the field.
Let’s Delve into the Australian Sport History
Whenever we think about the countries with rich sports history, Australia comes at the top. The reason why Australia has always remained in the limelight is the way it has performed exceptionally besides its relatively small population. Even though the athlete population in Australia is less, the love and passion for sports can be found in almost every Australian. Australia has always been on the sunny side because of having a wide environment supporting outdoor activities. The statement published by the Australian journalist John Hallows explains it all, let’s have a look –
“One of the most attractive things about Australian life, to both Australians and foreigners, is its leisure potential. The image of eternal sun, sand, surf and space figures largely not only in the motivation of immigrants from northern Europe, but in the conceptual bases in which Australians themselves organise their attitudes"
Sports in Australia is not something introduced by the modern people, in fact, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people believed that sport was a part of their culture without which their day to day life was sketchy. The early European settlers of Australia considered sports as the only medium to rejoice in their idle hours. These pastime activities were the indicators of their lifestyle. The initial sports activities in Australia were witnessed in the 1800s when the popular sports in New South Wales were horse racing, cricket, professional foot races, sailing, and rowing. Sports was the medium to bind the Australians together, it acted as a bridge that helped them join hands irrespective of their race and gender. Not just the adults, even the kids of Australia were demanded to involve in various sports activities like running, jumping, and climbing in order to stay physiologically fit.
These activities were not just for their enjoyment, in fact, they needed it to survive peacefully. They needed to learn climbing so they can get their food and throwing to hunt down animals. The Sham Fights entertained them along with teaching them various tips and tricks for warfare. Australia experienced its first significant success in 1876 during a sporting event when Edward Trickett won the sculling championship of the world. This win highlighted Australia’s strength as compared to the rest of the world. From that moment, Australia had a bunch of other wins including the win of New South Wales and Victorian cricket team over the all-England team in Melbourne.
Glorious Moments Experienced by Australian Sport
Though Australia has experienced a slew of big proud sports moments, we have listed down the most glorifying ones –
The Bledisloe Glory
In 2000, the captain John Eales did something which every sports enthusiast dreams of doing! He won the trophy for his country at the very last moment or we can say in the dying seconds of a match. When the Aussies earned the penalty, Eales came with his bravest move and converted the penalty into the Bledisloe winning cup and handed it over to the nation making every Australian proud. That moment of Eales standing on the ground with the victory spark in his eyes is definitely the most historic moment for Australian sport.
The Standing against Racism Moment
You must have heard this statement by John Carlos-
"There's no-one in the nation of Australia that should be honoured, recognised, appreciated more than Peter Norman."
Well, Peter Norman proved that it’s not just the winner who leaves a long-lasting impression on everyone’s heart, sometimes it’s the non-winner who performs this magic. Everyone felt their heart touched when he made a monumental stand against racism at the 1868 Olympics in Mexico City. When he accepted his silver medal, he joined Tommie Smith and bronze medallist John Carlos in the black power and human rights protest. That moment of Peter wearing a human rights badge on his jacket made everyone proud.
Steven Bradbury's unexpected gold medal
Steven Bradbury is someone who actually took the “Never Give Up” quote into practice! The way he won Gold Medal in the 1,000m speed skating event at the 2002 winter Olympics left everyone astounded. When all his four rivals got tangled up, he immediately grabbed the opportunity and skated over the line. In this way, he became the first person to hold the Gold Medal with a wide smile on his face.
Flying the flag at the 2011 Tour de France
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, we can say that the Tour de France is the most physically demanding challenge and winning it is the biggest victory in itself. The 34-year-old Australian Cadel Evans passionately completed all the 21 toughest stages as well as 3,500 Km cycling through France’s most precarious landscape and became the oldest rider embracing the victory since World War 2. He was also titled the “Australia’s toughest sportsman” by Australia’s Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
After reading all these above-mentioned Australian sports victories, one cannot overlook the passion for sports in every Australian’s heart and soul. Sport has always dominated Australian life for good and it somehow influenced Australian literature, politics, and media positively. Australia Sporting is something that has made it a unique nation and will continue to contribute to its success.