London Olympics

I moved a private member's motion in parliament today wishing our Olympians and Paralympians well in London.

2012 London Olympics
25 June 2012

To move—That this House:
(1) notes:
(a) that the 2012 London Olympics will take place from 27 July to 12 August and the Paralympics will take place from 29 August to 9 September, with London becoming the first city to host the modern Olympics on three occasions; and
(b) the diversity of the Australian team, comprising athletes from all parts of Australia;
(2) recognises the dedication and hard work of the extraordinary athletes that make up the Australian Olympic and Paralympic teams, and their coaches, friends and family;
(3) acknowledges the unique role played by the Australian Institute of Sport in preparing athletes for the Olympics and Paralympics; and
(4) wishes our athletes well in London.

Fraser is the sportiest electorate in Australia. In any Olympic sport, I would pit my electorate against the electorate of any other person in this place. Of course, it helps to have the Australian Institute of Sport! But it is also true that Canberra has plenty of non-elite athletes. Over 40 per cent of the ACT public plays some form of organised sport. The nation's capital is also its sporting capital.

In my time as member for Fraser, I have had the pleasure of allocating Local Sporting Champions grants. Local Sporting Champions assists young athletes aged 12 to 18 with the costs of competing at state, national or international competitions. Over the past 18 months, I have been joined by swimmer Sally Foster and Hockeyroo Anna Flanagan to award Local Sporting Champions grants to individuals and sporting clubs in my electorate.

Sally, who lives in the Fraser electorate and trains at the Australian Institute of Sport, is competing in the 200 metres breaststroke at her second Olympic Games. Sally also has a special connection to the Olympics. Her great-aunt competed in the 1936 Berlin games. On the six-week boat trip over to Germany, she and the other swimmers trained by having someone hold their arms while they kicked their legs in the small pool on board the ship.

Anna Flanagan is heading to London as part of the Hockeyroos squad, playing in the position of full-back. Anna debuted for Australia against Korea in 2010 and has scored six goals in 56 international matches. She plays for the Canberra Strikers in the Australian Hockey League, and she is also studying journalism. So who knows—at some point after her hockey career is over we may see her in this place as a journalist covering the nation's politics.

The AIS is a terrific facility that has been producing great athletes for many years. I know there are many athletes who live and train at the institute, each with their own unique story. I want to wish each of those AIS athletes the best for the games.

London hosted the modern Olympics in 1908 and 1948. In 1939 it was granted the 1944 games, but these were cancelled due to World War II. Had they held the Olympics in 1944, it would have been the 50th anniversary of the modern Olympics.

These Olympics will be held from 27 July to 12 August, followed by the Paralympics from 29 August to 9 September. It was a pleasure this morning to join the Prime Minister and the Minister for Sport, Kate Lundy, to farewell our Paralympians.

My own personal connection to the London games is courtesy of a childhood friend, Bronwen Watson. Bronwen also trained at the AIS and is representing Australia in the women's lightweight double sculls. The winner of four world championships, she is one of the fittest and most dedicated people I know. I wish her all the best and hope that she manages to come home with gold. Her dedication and that of all of our athletes are examples of what individuals, with the support of others, can achieve. It is witnessing athletes achieving gold medals or, in some cases, simply participating, that makes the Olympics such a special event.

I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the dedication and sacrifice of coaches, families and friends. No athlete makes it to the games alone and they rely heavily on the support of those close to them. So to those friends, families and support crews, I say thank you.

My favourite Olympic moment has to be Cathy Freeman's 400-metres victory at the 2000 Games: that look of steely determination and focus; that moment as she strode away to consolidate her lead as she came out of the final turn; the sight of her sitting on the track alone in a full stadium, the relief of having carried her own and a nation's expectations. For me that moment signified more than a nation celebrating the triumph of an individual athlete. For me it was also a great moment of unification between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, one based on rejoicing our shared histories and cultures. It is my favourite moment because in that symbolic sense it managed to get the combination of Indigenous celebration and pathos.

Every Olympic Games produces moments of heroism, humanity and humility. Proposed in 1894 by Pierre de Coubertin, its motto Citius, Altius, Fortius—Swifter, Higher, Stronger—will again be on display by our athletes at the Olympics and Paralympics. I wish them, and in particular those from the ACT, every success and the experience of a lifetime.

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