Swimming towards Tokyo

Today, apparently, it is exactly one year to the Tokyo Olympics. I am sure Dawn Fraser remembers the last time well… More from her later.

First, though, I can hardly credit that the Sydney Olympics are now so long ago, and just as hard to credit that I blogged them! My posts began with:

Sunday, September 3 2000: 12 days to the Olympics

They say Moore Park will be finished before the Olympics, but they are finding it difficult as there are not enough graders available to do the job. Meantime Belmore Park, near Central Station, is now carpeted–not with bright flowers, or fresh green grass, but with daggy green carpet! Very tasteful. There was a bomb scare at Kirrawee Railway Station south of the city last week; apparently emergency personnel were misdirected to Canterbury Station (some distance away and on quite another line) due to a “pronunciation problem”! However, Central Station refurbishment has been completed–well almost.

Extra police on the streets and quite a few foreign visitors are already apparent in the city. The athletes, of course, have started moving into the Olympic Village.

Today was Yum Cha again–for the unitiated this is Cantonese for “drink tea” and is essentially an endless supply of delicacies (steamed buns, dumplings, chicken feet, etc) washed down by tea. One can if one chooses have a 24 course breakfast–or more. There were ten people today–PK, Ian Smith, J***s, Sirdan, ABC Andrew, Clive, a guy from Houston Texas, a lesbian Olympic volunteer official from NZ (a friend of Sirdan), Bruce from the Albury, and me. Rabbit sent his hugs to all but was otherwise engaged today. Sad news is that John Wilkinson, who was there last time, an old friend of M, is critically ill in hospital: M has just gone to visit him….

And later:

Saturday, September 16 2000

GO THORPIE!!!! Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi OI!!!!! That 4X100 relay was sheer magic.

More on the Opening Ceremony–yes that torch thing did get stuck apparently! However, wasn’t that “underwater” lighting spectacular! And the waterfall! Yes–they did lay the politics of reconciliation on a bit thick, but it needs to be addressed and the Olympics was a powerful symbolic time: so too for the two Koreas and East Timor–moving moments both. However, I think the image of the girl and the songman remains the most powerful image for me.

I was tutoring in Chinatown today. One student, an 18-year-old from Mainland China, came in clutching tickets to the Olympic Table Tennis where his team will undoubtedly do well! He too admired the message of reconciliation in the Opening Ceremony, and was touched not only by that and the two Koreas being united, but also felt the fact China and Taiwan could play together in the Olympics sent a good message to the world and to the people and the politicians.

And my site passed the 2000 today! A minor matter but pleasing. In August this diary averaged seven hits a day; this month to date it has passed the total for August, averaging seventeen hits a day! Mind you that other site I declared “war” on a week ago has averaged twenty-four hits a day so far this month, so don’t get complacent my friends!

So there has been a bit of controversy just lately:

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That is Chinese swimmer Sun Yang having his “You’re a loser!” moment with UK swimmer Duncan Scott, who had refused to shake his hand or share the podium with him — in support of Australian swimmer Mack Horton’s stand the previous day. Dawn Fraser has expressed her view with characteristic frankness:

Australian swimming legend Dawn Fraser has branded Sun Yang a “drug cheat” and “disgusting” as protests of the Chinese superstar rage on.

Aussie Mack Horton sparked a boycott of Sun at the ongoing FINA world championships by refusing to shake hands with his Chinese rival after the 400m freestyle; in which Sun finished first and Horton second.

Horton then refused to take the podium with Sun or appear in any celebratory photographs with him.

British swimmer Duncan Scott repeated the protest after the 200m freestyle, causing Sun to erupt with rage and call him a “loser”.

“They (FINA) shouldn’t have allowed this guy to swim,” Fraser said on the TODAY Show on Wednesday. “Because he is a drug cheat, we all know that. He smashed his blood vials, he got a security man in to smash his blood vials, and he comes up to court in September. Why didn’t they stop him swimming and give the other guys, who want to do a clean sport, the opportunity of doing their best times and not have to swim against a drug cheat? I support both Mack and the British swimmer.”

And I’m with Dawn.

See also my 2014 post The swimmer.

I have known swimmers in my time too.


That is my cousin Beverley Whitfield with the Mayor of Shellharbour, Keith Grey (a contemporary of my parents in Shellharbour), on her return from the Munich Olympics in 1972 – and yes, I have held that gold medal in my hand! This is a famous image of Bev at Munich:

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Beverley died at the age of just 42 in 1996.

It was at Beverley’s funeral that I met Dawn Fraser.

Update 26 July:

Hmmm. While Dawn Fraser is a legend for good reason, her opinions may not always be spot on. Remember, for instance, on Nick Kyrgios a few years back: “They should be setting a better example for the younger generation… If they don’t like it, go back to where their fathers or their parents came from. We don’t need them here in this country if they act like that.”

So on reflection I suggest you also read from ABC Offsiders Mack Horton’s Sun Yang podium protest shows frustration with sport’s anti-doping efforts and China swim chief’s stunning Sun claim.