July 23, 2012
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by major sporting events, particularly the Olympics. I was always resentful that I was too young to remember the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 although my parents assure me I watched it on that brand new phenomenon in Melbourne – the television. For many years as a child my favorite book was a coffee table sized book on the Melbourne Olympics. I would read and re-read it. I can still tell you all the track and field and swimming gold medalists from those Games.
Then it was Olympics by TV and radio as I watched the great Herb Elliott and his crazy towel-waving coach Percy Cerutty in Rome, then as a 12 year old boy fascinated by Dawn Frasers exploits in and out of the pool in Tokyo. I will never forget Australian team doctor Brian Corrigan (later to become a colleague) bent over an unconscious Ron Clarke after his collapse in the altitude of Mexico 1968 – maybe that was the moment that inspired me to do sports medicine! Then there was the tragedy of Munich, followed by the disappointments of Montreal (boycotts, no Aussie gold). By the time the Moscow Olympics came around I was living in London and justified the expense of a trip to the Games by convincing myself that “I would never be this close to the Olympics again” – little did I know.
However what a great experience, meeting up with a bunch of fellow sports nuts (Brian, Dave, Carol and Mike, Will) and being on hand when Ovett won Coe’s event and Coe won Ovett’s. Then it was Carl Lewis in Los Angeles 1984, my patient Debbie Flintoff-King winning gold by the smallest possible margins – who could forget the anxiety at the end of the race then the look of joy when she realised she had won – in Seoul 1988, and the archer lighting the flame in Barcelona – the best Opening Ceremony moment up to that time.
For the next two games, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 200, I was fortunate to be part of the Australian team. The thrills of marching into the stadium in the Opening Ceremonies were certainly two of the highlights of my life. Who could ever forget the moment when Muhammad Ali appeared to light the flame in Atlanta and of course Cathy in Sydney………..