With the start of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo imminent, global sport is making strides to resume and exciting and packed calendar after a tough 18 months. This is why we wanted to take the opportunity to relive some of the magic moments Australia has enjoyed over the years before we all enjoy the 2021 edition.
Australia is one of just a handful of nations to send athletes to every single modern Summer Olympics Games since the first event in 1896. We have developed a proud medal-winning history, particularly given the size of our population compared to other nations, with a number of all-time Olympic greats among our ranks.
This year’s event will be the 32nd Summer Olympic Games and given the delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is highly anticipated and should provide an amazing spectacle.
So, what better way to whet the appetite for the upcoming Games than to look back at some of Team Australia’s finest moments from past and present heroes…
Flack becomes first gold medallist for Australia
We start by going all the way back to the beginning to celebrate Australia’s first ever gold medallist at the first modern Summer Olympics Games in Athens, in 1896. Edwin Flack had competed in Victoria across a number of events and set his sights on the inaugural Olympics, with historic results.
Despite a nightmare journey via sea and rail, in which Flack suffered consistently from sea sickness, he recovered to compete the 800m and 1,500m events. In the 1,500m run, Flack took on the American favourite Arthur Blake, but came through to take gold, before another gold medal followed in the 800m. Flack also competed in the tennis and took home a bronze medal from that event to write his name in Australian Olympic history.
Cuthbert the Golden Girl of Melbourne ‘56
The home Games of 1956 hosted in Melbourne will forever be remembered for the stunning breakthrough performance of sprinter, Betty Cuthbert. At the age of just 18, Cuthbert took the Games by storm in her performances across the 100m, 200m and 4x100m events, winning three gold medals.
Ahead of the event, Cuthbert set a world record in the 200m and she put in performances at the Games which more than lived up to the hype. She duly became the first Australian ever, male or female, to win three gold medals at an Olympic Games and, after initially retiring from the sport, she returned in Tokyo eight years later to win another gold medal, this time in the 400m.
Hooker makes history in Beijing
Steve Hooker became a firm favourite for fans at Beijing in 2008 when he became the first Australian field athlete to win a gold medal in 60 years, and the first ever to win gold in the Pole Vault.
Hooker produced a resilient performance as twice cleared jumps on his third attempt in the final, before making another third attempt at 5.90m to take the gold medal. He capped off the performance with an Olympic record final jump of 5.96m to secure himself cult hero status amongst the Australian public.
Thorpe reigns supreme at Sydney 2000
Coming up against an all-powerful USA was always going to be a great battle, but at the home games in 2000, Ian Thorpe helped to lead the Australian team to one of its most memorable Olympic performances ever.
Expectations were high from the public going into the competition and the results lived up to this, with Thorpe taking gold in the 400m freestyle and setting a world record, following by team golds and further world records in the 4x100m freestyle and the 4x200m freestyle.
In winning silver medals in the 200m freestyle and the 4x100m medley, Thorpe became the most successful athlete at the 2000 Olympic Games.
Cathy Freeman produced iconic performance in Sydney
Where else could we conclude our Olympic nostalgia but with Cathy Freeman’s epic 400m final at the 2000 Games. Having won silver four years earlier in Atlanta, Freeman (and the entire nation), had sights set on going one better in Sydney.
In an electric atmosphere, Freeman produced a dominant performance to finish comfortably ahead of her competitors and clinch an inspirational gold medal. Having become the first Australian indigenous person to become a Commonwealth Games gold medallist in 1990, at just 16 years of age, Freeman now enjoyed a victory lap draped in the Aboriginal and Australian flags in a fantastic moment for the nation. It was undoubtedly the highlight of incredible home Olympic Games.
We hope our highlights help to get your warmed up for what promises to be an amazing event in Tokyo!
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