Time for Australia’s green and gold to shine
THE HARD WORD | Must Australia’s summer of sporting misery continue? Must we continue to be the laughing stock of those cheeky Brits, who have all manner of things to sing about? Bring on London 2012 and come on the Aussies!
FOR a country whose sporting prowess has long been the envy of other nations, well Britain anyway, it’s been a difficult period in Australian sport.
This scribe doesn’t pretend to know the answers to any of this but Australia has simply dropped off the radar when it comes to others sitting up and taking notice of us.
Cricket is the most damning example. From the ‘Golden Age’ of Australian Test cricket at the beginning of the 20th century to the breathtaking Bradman era of the 1930’s, to the Chappell, Lillee and Rod Marsh team of the 1980’s to arguably our most successful sporting period early in the 21st century.
Decades of cricket euphoria has been replaced by mediocrity. Forget rankings, our one-day international side is nowhere near as good as it once was, and the Test team is just as mediocre. Our recent tour of England revealed how far away our young, inexperienced team is from returning to the glory days in all forms of the game.
Greg Norman may rightly be considered one of the greatest chokers of all time, but the two-time Major winner was always thereabouts, while the last Australian to win a Major, Geoff Ogilvy, won the US Open way back in 2006. Adam Scott and Jason Day sit inside the top 20, and Scott is well overdue to prove his worth as a Major winner. However, there’s little hope outside this pair.
This year’s Wimbledon Championship exposed (if we didn’t know already) serious failings in the state of Australian tennis. The first time since 1938 that we didn’t have a representative in the second round of the men’s singles, 2012 was unquestionably an embarrassment. Bernard Tomic and of course Sam Stosur provide hope but who else? Our country has a rich history of providing tennis greats, but no longer it seems.
The Wallabies enjoyed a phenomenal period in the first decade of the 21st century, but while we sit second in the IRB World Rankings, the Springboks, the English, French and Welsh have all tightened the gap with the Aussies and New Zealand.
But the London Games provides us with an opportunity to (briefly) forget about all that and once again show the world our ability to kick ass.
Despite a recent defeat at the Diamond League meet in London, Sally Pearson will start the overwhelming favourite in the sprint hurdles. The Kookaburras, led by five-times world player of the year Jamie Dwyer, will be extremely tough to beat. Expect Anna Meares to shine in her pet event, the women’s keirin, while a stinging defeat to Great Britain at the World Championships in the men’s team pursuit will spur them on.
And in the pool the women’s 4x200m freestyle, with the addition of Melanie Schlanger, will look to reclaim their gold medal in Beijing, while the men’s 4x100m medley relay, James Magnussen and the men’s 4x100m freestyle are all serious gold medal contenders.
Rowing, road cycling, sailing, women’s and men’s BMX as well as showjumping also provide the Aussies with huge medal chances.
Team GB has set its sights on beating us in the overall medal chase. For them, nothing else matters.
So come on Australia. Let’s stick it up ‘em.