Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Olympians Return

I know I've said it before, but nothing brings Australians together more than their love of sport. The Olympics were a perfect example of that. What I found particularly interesting was not the way the Australians came together to support their Olympians, but the way the Olympians came together as a TEAM to represent Australia. Since a great many of the sports that are competed at the Olympics are individual events, it would be easy to forgive these individuals for being inward focused and oblivious to their fellow competitors or compatriots. One can also understand that even when team sports are concerned, teams from one sport may not have any knowledge or interest in teams playing in another sport different to their own.

As an observer to the most recent Olympic Games in Beijing (and by observer I mean, from the comfort of my own home in front of the television), I have to say my take on the Australians is the entire Australian Olympic team seems to be much more of a 'single unit' than any other I've come across.

In the lead up to the Olympic Games, the various athletes representing Australia would have been completing their training regimes in all corners of the Earth. Many of them arrived in Beijing at different times depending on the schedule for their events. Which is all, as they say in Australia, fair enough.

Once they arrived in Beijing though and competed in their events, they rallied around one another. I didn't witness any early exits, most of the athletes seemed to stay on till the closing ceremonies to support their fellow countrymen and to soak up a bit of the rare experience of being an Olympian.

To give you some indication of how unified the Australian Olympians appeared to be and what a big deal the Olympics were in Australia, have a look at the welcome home reception afforded the select few who represented Australia in Beijing and returned home to Australia on Tuesday morning.

The Australian (a national Australian newspaper) covered the homecoming in an August 26th article entitled, "Beijing Olympians return to emotional welcome" with the following description:

"THE Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson have welcomed home Australia's Olympic athletes in Sydney.
Qantas charter flights, carrying more than 500 Australian competitors and support staff, landed shortly after 6.40am (AEST) today. The medallists arrived on a Qantas 747 while the remainder of the team travelled home on a Qantas A330.

The Olympians were met at Sydney's International Airport by Mr Rudd, Mr Nelson, NSW Premier Morris Iemma and Sports Minister Kate Ellis.

Hundreds of family and friends waving Australian flags and carrying flowers, gathered in aircraft hangar 96 at Sydney airport to welcome the athletes."

How's that for unity? 500 athletes, coaches and support staff traveling back together to Australia to be welcomed by the Prime Minister and a legion of fans. Never saw anything quite like that in the USA. Did I mention this reception was covered LIVE on television? We got to see the plane landing and taxiing into the hangar and all the athletes disembarking. It was quite the party atmosphere.

A brief Google search this morning (and I didn't spend too much time on this--I've got kids remember?) leads me to believe that this type of reception for the Olympians immediately upon their arrival home from the Olympics isn't done in too many places. There were indications that perhaps the Irish and the Canadians may have had similar receptions for their athletes.

Lucky are those who do, I say. What a lovely way to celebrate your personal Olympic accomplishments with your fellow Olympians and to be appreciated together as one team, representing one nation.


ibbabs97 said...

Hey what happened. I am missing my lessons on Australia.

Annelise said...

Does the blogger have blogger's block?

suzinoz said...

Apologies to my audience of two! I will be back blogging in the next few days. Have become time poor this week! Will endeavour to do better going forward. Thanks for reading!

Annelise said...

Pormises...Promises... haha. I want more stories on how the handsome Australian pulled one over on you (like the airplane, kangaroos, and boomerang story). Hope you are taling requests!

Raúl y Pablo said...

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