Australian News

Sydney Roosters lose injured Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Caslick for remainder of NRLW season

The Sydney Roosters have lost Olympic rugby sevens star Charlotte Caslick to injury for the remainder of the NRLW competition.

Caslick, who made her NRLW debut earlier this month, was sidelined after sustaining two small fractures in her lumbar spine.

She has already commenced a recovery program and will remain with the Roosters’ NRLW squad as they continue their build-up to the grand final on October 25.

Caslick was a member of Australia’s gold medal-winning rugby sevens team at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Her availability to play NRLW this season came after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

She will return to the national rugby sevens ahead of next year’s Games.

“It’s a great time for me and I think I would have regretted it if I put it off for another year,” Caslick said last month.

Charlotte Caslick in full stride
Caslick helped Australia win Olympic gold in rugby sevens in Rio.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

The 25-year-old backline star appeared in both of the Roosters’ two victories so far this NRLW season.

She posted an impressive 163 running metres in the Roosters’ opening 18-4 win over St George Illawarra and backed up that performance in attack with 119 running metres in the 22-12 defeat of the Warriors.

The Roosters and Broncos are guaranteed to face each other in the NRLW grand final, despite one round remaining in the competition.

They are both undefeated ahead of their regular-season clash at Sydney’s Olympic stadium on Saturday.

They will meet again at the same venue eight days later.

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Miami State High becomes home for three Gold Coast Suns AFL Women’s players

Miami State High School has become home to three Gold Coast Suns players with a student, past student and teacher expected to play in the 2021 season.

Year 12 student Lucy Single and 2019 graduate Maddison Levi were drafted to the team on Tuesday, joining teacher Sally Riley who signed with the Suns after playing for Adelaide in the 2017 AFLW premiership.

“It still doesn’t really feel real yet,” Ms Single said.

The hat-trick has been a culmination of the school’s partnership with the Gold Coast Suns aimed at mentoring emerging talent and providing young women with a pathway into the elite sport.

Building a culture of AFL Women’s

Ms Levi said it had been a difficult year for many emerging players to get noticed due to the pandemic, but she managed to break two records — the 20-metre sprint and the vertical jump — during the qualification process.

“We were lucky, our lockdown wasn’t like other states so I was able to do lots of fitness,” she said.

two women
Maddison Levi, left, and Lucy Single have benefitted from a program creating pathways into elite sport.(Supplied: Miami State High School)

Ms Single said Suns’ players conducted training sessions with students as part of its partnership program.

“It’s kind of making more of a culture around [AFLW] and making it quite exciting,” she said.

Ms Levi said AFLW’s exposure was just getting bigger and better.

“Having the women come through and the crowd roaring and the impact its having, is an unreal feeling.”

An ‘equal standing’ between genders

Miami State High School’s principal Sue Dalton said the sports program had helped create “equal standing among both genders”.

“We have had back-to-back success in the AFLQ Cup [AFL Queensland Schools Cup] as state champions in senior girls,” Ms Dalton said.

She said 33 students were involved in the program, with plans to include primary school students next.

“They get specialist coaching which is amazing. They learn how to conduct themselves, how to handle themselves,” Ms Dalton said.

With more students set to follow in her footsteps, Ms Single said her advice was to “keep doing it if you love it”.

“There’s no point trying to play a sport if you’re not enjoying it,” she said.

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Gold Coast Titans say they will work with the NRL’s Integrity Unit over alleged racial abuse of Tyrone Peachey

The NRL’s Integrity Unit will investigate whether Tyrone Peachey was racially abused by a Newcastle player in the Gold Coast’s win on Friday night.

Peachey could be heard telling referee Chris Sutton he had been the victim of a racial slur in the second half of the 36-6 win.

“That backrower called me a black c***,” the Titans lock said.

Peachey opted not to make an official on-field complaint when pressed further.

But the Titans confirmed on Saturday morning they would proceed with the issue.

“Our immediate focus is Tyrone Peachey as the impact of an event like this can have a toll on the individual. Tyrone has our absolute support,” Titans CEO Steve Mitchell said.

“We’re extremely proud of our Indigenous heritage.

“The Titans have the highest number of Indigenous players in our top 30 roster of any club in the NRL.

“The contribution of Indigenous players to our club both on and off the field cannot be understated.

“We as a club are committed to eliminating discrimination from our game, and do not stand for any sort of harassment, bullying and victimisation.”

It’s understood the Integrity Unit will be able to pore over the referee’s microphone and broadcaster audio to use in their investigation.

The Knights will assist the NRL in any probe.

Any drama would come at the worst possible time for the Knights ahead of their elimination final against South Sydney in Sydney next weekend.


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Gold Coast beats finals-bound Knights to end NRL season with fifth straight win

The Newcastle Knights have endured a horror warm-up for their first NRL finals campaign in seven years, with Gold Coast dishing out a 36-6 thrashing in Robina.

The Knights’ hopes of hosting a first home final in 14 years are hanging by a thread after the Titans rounded out their season with an impressive ninth win of 2020, which included a brilliant individual try-scoring double from young fullback AJ Brimson.

The victory means the Titans end the season in ninth place on the ladder on the back of a club-record equalling five-match winning streak.

The Knights have not won back-to-back matches since round 15 and will be sweating on the availability of star forward Jacob Saifiti for their elimination final against South Sydney.

Saifiti was placed on report in the first half for a crusher tackle on Titans centre Young Tonumaipea.

Under an NRL crackdown, the offence carries a minimum one-match ban even with an early guilty plea, meaning if Saifiti is charged he would need to challenge and win at the judiciary to play in next weekend’s final.

Whether that final is played in Newcastle or Sydney will be determined by South Sydney’s result in Friday night’s other match against the Sydney Roosters, with the Rabbitohs able to jump up to sixth if they can beat the reigning premiers.

On a humid evening in Robina, the Titans made a perfect start when Ash Taylor opened the scoring in the fourth minute.

The Knights fired back to twice cross the Titans’ line, only for the bunker to rule out tries to Mitchell Pearce and Edrick Lee.

Titans hooker Mitch Rein then embarrassed the Knights by busting through some weak marker defence to extend the hosts’ lead in the 26th minute.

Lee finally got the Knights on the board late in the first half but there was time for the Titans to score again through Brian Kelly to take a 16-6 lead into the break.

With Queensland State of Origin coach Kevin Walters watching from the stands, Brimson provided the highlight of the match with a 95-metre run through feeble Knights’ defence to score a wonderful individual try.

Taylor then finished off another length-of-the-field effort in combination with Treymain Spry, before Brimson danced through the defence brilliantly in the 69th minute.

The Titans’ first win against a top-eight team this year was sealed when captain Kevin Proctor finished a long-range attacking movement to score his side’s seventh try as the Knights’ defence simply fell apart.

Victory sends Titans coach Justin Holbrook and his players into the off-season full of excitement about what lies ahead in 2021.


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Cathy Freeman’s 2000 Olympic gold medal night was greatest ever in athletics, say the commentators who were there

The stadium is ablaze.

Pinpoints of light from camera flashes sparkle around the crowd of 112,000 people, like stars on the clearest of nights.

There has never been this many people at an Olympic Games athletics session and there hasn’t been since.

They’re here to see one woman, and the sense of expectation is like an electric current buzzing around the crowd.

It’s September 25, 2000 and Cathy Freeman is about to race in the 400 metres.

Australia’s two best athletics commentators, Channel 7’s Bruce McAvaney and the ABC’s Tim Lane (now with 3AW), are here to record history in real time for an audience of millions.

McAvaney and Lane describe the night's atmoshpere

Because this is a night like no other. Never has one night of competition brought together so many of athletics’ biggest names.

“It was an incredible feeling all night. I mean it was an atmosphere of happiness, joy, expectation, it was like a carnival, it was contagious,” McAvaney says.

It isn’t just Freeman here to make history.

There’s American superstar Michael Johnson, aiming to become the first man to win two 400-metre golds; Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie, doubling up in the 10,000 metres and a gripping women’s pole vault final that unveils a new Australian sporting star who had come from Russia.

Despite the pulling power of the sport’s greatest names, however, this night is all about Freeman and the crushing weight of expectation on her slight, but strong figure.

First up: Freeman’s moment of reckoning

An Australian athlete, wearing a green, white and gold bodysuit, runs with her head down.
Lane says there was almost fear in the stadium when Freeman took to the track, because no-one wanted to see her fail.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

“She was the symbol of the games and reconciliation in the home country,” Lane says.

“There was fear almost, because no-one wanted to see her fail in that moment and there’d rarely been an Olympic athlete step out under the sort of scrutiny and pressure that she’d been under.”

And she’s first up.

McAvaney had already covered several Olympic Games and world championships, and yet his mouth had gone dry.

“I had this feeling … this was something that I hadn’t experienced before as a broadcaster,” he says.

“I realised that a moment had arrived, and I said to myself consciously: ‘Just relax, go slow, enjoy, you’ve prepared well and do your best.'”

Cathy Freeman crosses the line, finally an Olympic champion, slumps onto the track and pushes her hood off her head. The camera is tight on her face revealing, what? Anguish. Relief. Disbelief. Pain.

“It was almost perfect in a way because it was just, this weight on her shoulders for four years and suddenly it was released and she had that beautiful moment to herself,” McAvaney says.

The moment of enormous tension is over and there’s a slight sense of a let-down despite the show that’s about to come — Michael Johnson — one of the greatest athletes of all time.

Next: Michael Johnson creates history

Michael Johnson holds in starting position on the blocks with his arms extended
Johnson’s race was after Freeman’s, and despite his win, it seemed anti-climactic in comparison.(AAP: Julian Smith)

“Honestly, there was such euphoria in the stadium it was like the race after the Melbourne Cup in a sense,” Lane says.

“I mean people wanted to see Michael Johnson but nevertheless it was anti-climactic in the extreme.”

“Out he comes, Michael Johnson, one of the 10 greatest Olympians, track and field, trying to do something no-one else had done,” McAvaney adds.

The aim: to become the first man to win consecutive Olympic 400 metres golds.

“Four years earlier he’d set a world record in the 200 metres and blown the field out of the water in the 400 metres,” Lane says.

McAvaney adds he was no certainty either.

“He hadn’t made the Olympic team in the 200 metres. He certainly wasn’t the athlete he was in ’96.”

The doubts were unfounded; he surges around the bend and streets away on the home straight.

Then: The ‘greatest thing’ of the night

Aloys Nizigama runs in a white vest in front of Haile Gebrselassie in a green vest
Described as the greatest race of the night, Haile Gebrselassie from Ethiopia (middle) won the 10k race in its final strides.(AAP: Julian Smith)

The greatest race of the night is next: Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie in the 10,000 metres, as he, like Johnson, tries to defend his Olympic title.

McAvaney almost chokes up as he remembers a stunning race as Gebrselassie was challenged By Kenya’s Paul Tergat, who exploded to the lead with 200 metres to go.

“What I remember so much about that race is the courage of Gebrselassie. He had an Achilles problem, he looked beaten a couple of times,” he says.

“That last 200 metres for me is one of the greatest things I’ve seen in sport, to this day.”

Lane agrees.

“They just went hell for leather,” he adds.

“To see them running so fast at the end of 10,000 metres and Tergat looked as though this time he was going to turn the tables.

“But Gebrselassie, who was the king, just found that little bit extra and was able to get there in the last couple of strides.”

“He went from an all-time great to arguably the greatest ever at that moment and he did it through sheer courage, sheer will,” McAvaney says.

And still, there is more.

Gabriela Szabo from Romania winning the women’s 5,000 metres in a stunning final, desperately holding off Ireland’s Sonia Sullivan over the last 200 metres.

McAvaney’s co-commentator, Sebastian Coe (now Lord) calls it “one of the best distance races I’ve ever seen”.

Finally: An unknown makes her mark

While history is being made on the track, a tantalising sub-plot is playing out at dizzying heights.

Tatiana Grigorieva was a hurdler in Russia, but after emigrating to Australia in 1997 she took up the pole vault and immediately made her mark, winning the bronze medal at the 1999 World Championships.

A female Olympic pole vaulter walks away from the jumping zone, trailing her pole behind her.
A virtually unknown Tatiana Grigorieva took silver in the women’s pole vault final.(AAP: Julian Smith)

But to the average Australian audience she’s a virtual unknown as she takes on the hot favourite, Stacy Dragila from the US.

The two battle vault by vault to the backdrop of the track races, before taking centre stage with Dragila eventually prevailing.

“Had it been on its own away from Freeman, Johnson, Gebrselassie, it would have been the absolute highlight of what was a terrific night of athletics,” McAvaney says.

“As it turned out, it was part of a jigsaw puzzle that was arguably the night of nights in Olympics athletics history.”

As the night ends, the two commentators leave the stadium talking with their colleagues from around the world about what they say was the greatest night of Olympic competition ever.

“Everyone thought that was the best night they’ve ever been to,” McAvaney says.

“I think at the end of the night we all felt that we would never see the likes of it again because it was impossible to imagine the stars could ever align like that again,” Lane says.

“Twenty years have passed, and that judgement in my mind stands as true now as it did then.”

McAvaney agrees.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that, I don’t think I ever will.”

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Tom Hanks spotted on Gold Coast after leaving hotel quarantine

The Hollywood superstar at the centre of Queensland’s border exemption controversy is now out of quarantine and set to begin work on the Gold Coast.

Tom Hanks touched down two weeks ago to begin filming for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic, which was originally slated to begin filming in March but was suspended when the star contracted COVID-19.

Luhrmann and the Queensland Government spent months formulating a COVIDSafe plan which would allow filming to resume, tipped to inject $100 million into the local economy.

As a result, Hanks was allowed to fly into Australia while thousands of Australians remain stranded overseas.

It prompted a woman stranded in London, desperately waiting to return home to Australia, to pen a letter to Hanks, expressing how “disheartening” it was to see celebrities head to Australia while she had been waiting months to return home.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk came under fire for allowing the movie star to enter the state, even copping criticism from the Prime Minister, amid a heartbreaking case of a Canberra woman denied approval to attend her father’s funeral.

On Sydney radio on Thursday morning, before border restrictions were eased to allow ACT residents into the sunshine state, Mr Morrison said he didn’t expect special treatment to enter Queensland.

Mr Morrison accused the state of “double standards”, after 400 AFL executives were also allowed to enter the state while ordinary Australians remained locked out.

“Well I don’t think there should be double standards, I mean it’s not like I’m a Hollywood movie star or in the AFL or anything,” he told Nova’s Fitzy and Wippa.

CHO Dr Jeannette Young revealed part of the reason why Hanks and his cast and crew mates were allowed to enter Queensland was for monetary reasons, namely that it would provide a well-needed boost for the state’s struggling economy.

“I have given exemptions from people in entertainment and film because that is bringing a lot of money into this state,” she said in a press conference earlier this month.

Mr Morrison said he understood why people were “frustrated” to see the “double standards.”

“Queenslanders are fair-minded people. I know, I’m sure the vast majority of Queenslanders would support the border being in place. That’s why it’s not about that, it’s about – you know, Queenslanders are very fair-minded people too, and I think this is what would offended them, the double standards that are there,” Mr Morrison said on September 10.

Hanks, alongside co-star Austin Butler, will begin filming at Village Roadshow Studios on Wednesday.

While Hanks was spotted at Pacific Fair on Tuesday, castmate Butler, who will play Elvis, was also spotted at Broadbeach.

Initial reports suggested Hanks was quarantining in a lavish Gold Coast hinterland estate, but that was later denied by Ms Palaszczuk who said the star was staying in a “government approved hotel”.

“My advice is that he is staying in a hotel, so I am told that he is not staying in a house,” she said on Sunday.

“There are other people who have flown in from LA into Sydney and are staying in New South Wales now obviously they would have had to get the exemptions and border force checks as well … but unfortunately we’re not hearing anything about that in New South Wales, all we are hearing is about Queensland.

“Scott Morrison flew up here a few months ago and talked about more incentives to get more movies here, so that’s okay, we put in on the table more incentives to get movies here as well, and I’ll tell you what they want to come to Queensland and film and that means keeping people on the Gold Coast in employment and I’ll fight for those jobs.”

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Remember Lauren Burns, Tom King and Belinda Stowell? They won gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympics too

You remember where you were when Cathy Freeman won gold in the 400 metres at the Sydney Olympics.

You watched Ian Thorpe win the 400 metres freestyle in world record time on the first night of competition.

Australia won 58 medals at the Sydney Games: 16 gold, 25 silver and 17 bronze — its biggest haul.

The massive build-up and the unprecedented focus on gold medals ensured the team had its rock stars: Freeman, Thorpe, Hackett, Perkins and O’Neill. All won gold.

But, so did many others who were never under that intense spotlight.

Now, 20 years on, those athletes are reflecting on their 15 minutes of fame. Some are sanguine, while others wonder why they didn’t get more recognition.

Lauren Burns: Women’s taekwondo 49kg division gold medal

A woman stands on a balcony holding a cup or tea and looks at the camera.
Burns won the first medal in taekwondo, which was making its Olympic debut.(ABC News)

Lauren Burns seemingly came from nowhere to win gold in taekwondo in her 49kg division. It was the first medal in the sport, which was making its Olympic debut.

Burns’ moment of fame was boosted by the incongruous connections that media love to make. She’s the daughter of the singer and songwriter, Ronnie Burns, who was a household name in Australia in the 60s and 70s.

But aside from starting taekwondo because her father and brother were doing it, Burns was entirely her own woman.

The fact that it was a new Olympic sport meant she had barely any official funding.

“I had a sponsorship with an organic vegetable shop,” Burns said.

“My first tournament was in New York (in 1993). It was actually at Madison Square Garden, which was pretty crazy. But we had to pay our way, we paid part of our flights, we paid for our tracksuit.”

However, the financial hardship was outweighed by the sheer delight that after more than a decade in the sport, taekwondo finally had a place in the Olympics.

“There was never really an expectation like ‘oh I should have that much attention or our sport should have that sort of spotlight,’ because we’d never had it,” she said.

The final itself went off without a hitch as Burns beat her Cuban opponent Urbia Melendez by four points to two.

A coach lifts a woman and they both smile.
Burns and her coach Jin Tae Jeong after winning the gold medal.(Reuters: Kimimasa Mayama)

“I just had this incredible, single-minded, myopic focus on winning gold — so that was what I was really there to do,” she said.

“It wasn’t until I came off and my coach grabbed me, and I was running around the stadium, and it was it like ‘Yes, I did it’.”

The next day was a blur as the media interviews came thick and fast.

“I did so many that I lost my voice,” she said.

“I ended up getting some strapping tape and I just put it over my mouth because I needed people to see that I just couldn’t speak.”

Burns retired straight after the Olympics and threw herself into numerous projects — particularly public speaking.

“I was on such a high and it was like I was on the hamster wheel and I said yes to everything. Write a book? Great. Finish a uni degree? I’ll do that.

“I always had a bag in the hallway because I was travelling interstate all the time and never really knew where I was.”

It took five years for her to slow down.

“I stopped and went ‘woah’, and that’s when I kind of had that reflection of you know, who am I without my sport? Who am I if I’m not Lauren the taekwondo girl?”

Burns finished her degree in naturopathy and nutrition, and continued her public speaking career — which has only now been curtailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tom King: Sailing 470 class gold medal with Mark Turnbull

A man stands in front of a tree and smiles for the camera.
King and Turnbull’s gold medal was overshadowed by walker Jane Saville’s disqualification from her race.(ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh)

Tom King and his crewmate Mark Turnbull didn’t so much fly under the radar as sail under it.

Australia hadn’t had a competitor in the 470 class at the Olympics since 1984, so King and Turnbull did well just to make the team for Atlanta in ’96, where they finished 23rd.

But by 2000, King knew they were good enough to win gold.

Unlike some of the other high-profile medal chances, the pair deliberately chose to stay incognito.

“We weren’t doing it for media profile and fame and fortune, we were training to try and win the Olympic gold medal because that’s what we wanted to achieve,” he said.

It was all about executing a plan. During nine races across more than a week, they did that perfectly — achieving victory in the final race of the regatta.

“We had our highlight about halfway through the race when we managed to catch the American team who won silver, right off Bradley’s Head, in front of a very big crowd,” he said.

“For us that was an extraordinary experience because we’d never had a crowd attend any of our events.”

Two men smile while on a sailing boat on Sydney Harbour.
King and Turnbull after taking gold in the men’s 470 fleet race.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

But their moment in the spotlight was short lived, as another event stole the headlines. The Australian walker, Jane Saville, had been disqualified from the 20 kilometre race just as she was about to enter the Olympic Stadium to claim gold.

“It certainly frustrated me a little bit. I think I felt we were deserving of more recognition than we got,” King said.

“There were some experiences in the days that followed in the aftermath of the games that were pretty disappointing in terms of the lack of acknowledgement when the media was being dominated by the swimmers and other athletes.”

It’s a bugbear for King, who says he was conscious of an “us and them” mentality within the Australian Olympic team.

“That’s not to say that many of the swimmers aren’t deserving of that attention … but there are so many other athletes that have achieved similar levels of success in their disciplines whose achievements for some reason haven’t received the same kind of attention. That’s been sad in a way.”

King retired from sailing after the Olympics and struggled with depression as he tried to find his place in the world outside of the rigid confines of elite sport.

“I found it very difficult. It took me really five or six years to get comfortable or confident in a business environment,” he said.

Post-athletic career welfare remains a passionate topic for King, who served for a time as the chairman of the Australian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission and the AOC board.

Now he’s a successful fund manager and looks back with immense pride at what he achieved, not only in winning gold at the Sydney Olympics, but in paving the way for a generation of sailors who came after him.

“It was an extraordinary event for Australia,” he said.

Belinda Stowell: Sailing 470 class gold medal with Jenny Armstrong

Two women look at each other and smile in front of sailing boats at a marina.
Belinda Stowell (left) says the lack of recognition at the time didn’t phase her.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

Belinda Stowell won her gold medal with crewmate Jenny Armstrong, just hours before Tom King. It was an incredible day for Australian sailing at the Olympics.

Stowell’s journey began in her native Zimbabwe when she was just four.

“You’re out sailing, and hippos are making their noises in the bay,” she said.

“In some ways I guess it probably made me really observant.”

She emigrated to Australia when she was 19 and took up sailing seriously, deciding in 1995 that winning a gold medal would become her sole focus.

“I was probably obsessive about winning gold — probably to prove something to myself to be the best in the world,” she said.

“Being able to have that one driver almost helps you lift yourself off the canvas. There were definitely ups and downs — and significant downs at moments.”

The lack of money was one.

“I slept on people’s floors … from Cronulla to Palm Beach,” she said.

And she battled for years with a chronic injury to her shoulder — arguably the most important joint in the body for a sailor.

“My shoulder was subluxing (partially dislocating) about five or six times a race.

“From 1998 I saw a surgeon and he said, ‘you’ve got to have seven months out to have an operation, your shoulder is like ice on a plate’. And I said, ‘I’m about to go into my Olympic trials so it’s just not an option.’ I remember on the bus home from the surgeon just bawling my eyes out.”

She opted against the operation until after the Games and won gold with the help of a team of physios and the support of her crewmate, Armstrong.

Two women sit on a competitive sailing boat on Sydney Harbour.
Armstrong and Stowell during the race in which they won gold for Australia.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

“We had the glorious moment of winning the last race and winning the regatta at the same time,” Stowell said.

Like King, her moment in the sun was partially eclipsed by Jane Saville’s disqualification.

But that lack of recognition compared to the star athletes and swimmers never mattered to Stowell.

“I didn’t really mind, because I looked up to those athletes so much and used them for inspiration,” she said.

“I thought I was the bees’ knees, because I also got a stamp with my head on it and we got $10,000 from Australia Post.”

Unlike Burns and King, Stowell continued in her sport, sailing at the 2004 Olympics in Athens — where she and Armstrong finished 14th. She even made a comeback to compete at the 2012 London Games, finishing 7th.

For the last 16 years she has coached sailing at the Western Australian Institute of Sport.

As for her gold medal?

“It means that I was the best in the world for two weeks,” she reflected.

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NRL improvers Gold Coast Titans defeat Manly as Sea Eagles ace Tom Trbojevic goes down injured

Tom Trbojevic sustained a suspected shoulder injury in his long-awaited NRL return, as Manly went down to Gold Coast in a crushing 42-24 defeat at Brookvale Oval.

Playing his first match since June after being sidelined with a troublesome hamstring injury, Trbojevic was hurt attempting to make a tackle on Titans fullback AJ Brimson.

Brimson crossed for a try, with Trbojevic left with his right arm dangling by his side before he later departed the field.

Manly officials were initially hopeful the injury was only a stinger, but it comes at the worst possible time for Trbojevic.

Including Saturday’s loss, he had just two matches to impress New South Wales coach Brad Fittler before the end-of-season State of Origin series.

Trbojevic looked particularly rusty at the back on Saturday afternoon in both attack and defence, with two of his four errors coming after the shoulder injury.

His presence in attack helped Manly score one try as he drew in two defenders off the ball, while he also helped chase down Titans flyer Treymain Spry Sprei to deny him a 90-metre intercept try.

But on other occasions his injury lay-off showed, such as his failure to shadow a grubber dead that allowed Kevin Proctor to score and his fumbling of a poor Tevita Funa pass in the lead-up to another Titans try.

Regardless, the Sea Eagles were completely outplayed by the Titans, who posted their equal-highest score in their 14-year history.

The Titans have now won four straight matches for the first time since 2014. They are ninth on the ladder after being tipped by a number of commentators to collect the wooden spoon.

Brimson scored two tries, including an 80-metre effort that left referee Matt Noyen with an injured hamstring after Young Tonumaipea found his teammate from a 20-metre tap.

Tonumaipea also claimed a brace, making the most of a 60-metre intercept from Corey Thompson for his second.

Thompson finished the match off with a hamstring injury after earlier scoring a try, while Sam Stone and Spry scored the Titans’ other tries.

The result means Manly will finish the season with just one win from seven matches at its home ground Brookvale Oval.


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Collingwood locks in AFL finals spot by beating Gold Coast by 22 points at Gabba

Jordan De Goey has returned in style as Collingwood survived some nervous moments to beat Gold Coast by 22 points and book an AFL finals berth.

De Goey kicked four goals and set up another, while fellow returnee Adam Treloar finished with a game-high 26 disposals as the Magpies overcame the fast-starting Suns in a 10.8 (68) to 6.10 (46) Gabba win.

Ball-magnet Treloar had not played since round 10 because of a hamstring strain, while De Goey’s scent for goal was crucial in his first game back from hand surgery in late July.

Collingwood needed to win to avoid a likely must-win clash with ladder leaders Port Adelaide in the final round to make the eight.


And it looked ominous early when Alex Sexton booted three first-quarter goals to give the Suns a five-point edge at the first break.

De Goey responded with three goals of his own by half-time, then slotted again after the Suns had pegged back the lead with the first two majors of the third term.

The Magpies star launched from 50 metres off two steps, then marked strongly in a one-on-one with Sam Collins to gift Brody Mihocek a goal.

The Suns got sloppier as the game went on, kicking 3.9 through the last three quarters.

An unaware Nick Holman was tackled while walking into an open goal.


It would have handed the Suns a one-point lead, instead it was the Magpies by 11 when Mason Cox immediately kicked a goal at the other end to close the term.

A second Brayden Maynard shanked kick-in led to a goal when Josh Corbett threaded the needle for the quarter’s first major and a three-point game.

But Cox rose again when he outmarked Caleb Graham, played on and took a bounce before he nailed his second and celebrated appropriately.

Jack Crisp then put Collingwood 16 points clear to finally create a buffer with five minutes to play to send the Magpies finals-bound for a third-straight season.


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Is India’s lack of Olympic gold ‘mystifying’ or are we thinking about global sporting success all wrong?

Just what makes a country a global sporting success?

Is it Olympic medals? Winning the FIFA World Cup? Is the answer instead in a strong domestic competition — even if it’s a sport virtually no-one else in the world plays?

Or is all this chasing glory distracting us from where our money should really be spent?

Let’s look at India.

It has a population of more than 1.3 billion, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and more than 100 billionaires.

But at the last Summer Olympics it won just one silver and one bronze. It’s only won two gold medals in the last 50 years.

Australia won 29 medals at the last Games. Aussies have picked up 96 gold in the last 50 years.

The two countries have in common a colonial past and dominate in cricket. Both have massively popular domestic competitions in sports few other countries play — in Australia, AFL. In India, kabaddi — but more on that later.

India's Virat Kohli yells in celebration as in the foreground Aaron Finch walks away.
India and Australia share success in cricket.(Getty: Darrian Traynor/Cricket Australia)

The post-colonial hangover

Simon Chadwick, the director of Eurasian sport at business school emlyon, says given how increasingly powerful and outward looking India is, its Olympic record is puzzling.

“I’m often left mystified by India’s relative lack of success in global sport,” he tells ABC RN’s Sporty.

“In terms of population size alone, that’s a very poor Olympic medal return.”

He argues while the country could be a major player, it’s too inwardly focused.

Bangalore-based sports journalist Sharda Ugra says India’s lack of success at the Olympics hurts.

“For a long time, Indians were very apologetic about what we were — they had self-esteem issues, let’s say. It’s a post-colonial hangover,” she says.

“Once the Indian economy opened up in the 1990s that changed public perception of themselves, but you want to see that represented at a global level.”

Indian Olympian Pusarla V. Sindhu kisses her silver medal.
India’s Pusarla V. Sindhu won a silver medal in women’s singles badminton match at the Rio Olympics in 2016.(Getty: Goh Chai Hin/AFP)

She says poorly managed sports governance in India is largely to blame — the exception being the juggernauts of cricket’s India Premier League (IPL) and the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL).

But she says people are finding pride and self-confidence in those massively successful local competitions.

“Maybe there’s a generational shift in the kind of sports watchers and participants, that there are spectators and people who invest money in Indian sport,” she says.

“Maybe there is a change, that they are now far more confident about saying ‘It’s OK’.”

Matthew Nicholson heads the Centre for Sport and Social Impact at La Trobe University.

He says Australia’s focus on domestic sports that are either Commonwealth only (cricket and netball) or unique to Australia (AFL) hasn’t hurt our international performance too much.

“There were a series of events in Australia’s history that perhaps allowed us to capitalise on our sports performance and punch well above our weight.”

He says the poor performance at the 1976 Montreal Olympics — which lead to the creation of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) — spurred the country into action.

“Had we have perhaps not had that failure, then maybe we would have just gone along, and not participated in international sporting landscape in the way that we have. The 2000 Olympics were clearly the crowning glory.”

What is India’s kabaddi?

In the game — described as a mix between tag and wrestling — a team of seven sends one of their players (the raider) into the other team’s side of the court to tag other players and make it back to their side without getting trapped.

A kabaddi player wearing red leaps over a competitor as other players and an arena crowd watch on.
The Pro Kabaddi League has leapfrogged other codes to earn a following second only to cricket.(Getty: Sam Panthaky/AFP)

The raider does this while chanting “kabaddi” — they’re not allowed to take another breath while on their opponents’ side.

There’s a lot of strategy and agility, tackling and dodging.

Ugra says the creation of the PKL has shaken off the sport’s “yokel image” — it’s now India’s second most popular competition, behind cricket’s IPL.


“It has just thrown everything else off the chart,” she says.

“Literally that was created out of just a television broadcaster and an entrepreneur who saw the potential and the simplicity of kabaddi — how easy it was to understand and how easy it was to televise.”

Ugra says the sport, which underwent some rule tweaks to better suit TV, now has a broadcast package more expensive than the country’s football league.

Chadwick says kabaddi is India’s “best kept secret”.

“I think kabaddi over the next five to 10 years is going to be really interesting to observe,” he says.

“Internationally and globally Indian influence in the global sporting environment I think may well rest upon the success of kabaddi.

“Huge amounts of money are now being invested into kabaddi and there are some interesting developments around TV rights for example.”

Win at what cost?

Statues outside the Australian Institute of Sport
Funding both elite sport through the AIS and programs to encourage physical activity is a balancing act, Nicholoson says.(ABC News)

Chadwick says while other countries may win more Olympic medals, it comes at a cost

“There’s no rule out there in the world that every country has to be globally successful at sport,” he says.

“Within Scandinavian countries governments are much more focused on health and lifestyle and the participation of their populations in sport.

“You may not have those kind of big Norwegian sports stars that you would normally associate with say, the United States, what you do have is a very fit very active population.”

He says the UK’s government has created a sports system that’s essentially a medals factory — only the US won more gold at the Rio games.

But that “win at all costs mentality” is creating some serious issues.

“A lot of professional athletes are coming out and say, hey, there’s a bullying culture, there’s a culture of discrimination.”

Nicholson says Australia’s struggled to strike the balance between striving for international success and promoting physical activity.

“We have aimed for Olympic success, and world championship success, perhaps at the expense of participation and the expense of the general health of the population.”

He says elite sport policy and the AIS have had essentially unchallenged bipartisan political support for 40 years, whereas participation policies are at the mercy of election cycles and can change every three years.

“Australia has struggled to balance that priority and has a childhood obesity problem and an adult obesity and overweight problem as a result of not quite being in the Norway or Scandinavian camp,” he says.

“The peak being, the 2000 Olympics, really trying to focus on trying to get soft power outcomes through its events and its sporting successes.”

Kim Brennan smiles as people wave flags to welcome the team.
Channelling sporting success into ‘soft power’ outcomes is a strategy used by many countries, Chadwick says.(ABC: Jennifer Browning)

Chadwick says that’s a game he’s increasingly seeing nations playing — using sport to exercise soft power.

“Hard power is very much about conflict and intervention. Soft power is about using the power of attraction to engage different audiences around the world.”

He says Qatar is one country trying to turn sporting success into nation building, trying to use it’s FIFA World Cup to build “brand Qatar”.

“I think it’s very important to see sport not just as: we’re kicking a ball or we’re throwing a discus or we’re hitting a six,” he says.

“It’s about money, it’s about politics and it’s about influence around the world.”

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