Canada’s Simon Whitfield, right, currently second place to an unseen runner, leads Simon Lessing of Great Britain in the run leg in the men’s Olympic triathlon across from the Sydney Opera House, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2000 | Rick Rycroft/The Associated Press
Australians dominated the sport heading into the 2000 Sydney Olympics. That’s one of the reasons why triathlon was added to the program for their home Games, and why the women’s and men’s events were scheduled for the first two days of competition (Sept. 16 and 17). They were supposed to help get the host country fired up.
Meanwhile, no one expected much from the 25-year-old Whitfield, who’d never won a top-level international race. Except for Whitfield. Fuelled by borderline-irrational confidence, a nothing-to-lose mentality and just plain old guts, he hung around during the swim and bike stages and then made his big move in the closing 10-km run — his specialty. His thrilling finishing kick for the upset gold-medal win is one of the great moments in Canadian Olympic history. And he went on to add a silver with another gutsy, exciting run eight years later in Beijing. Read more about how Whitfield won gold in Sydney in his own words (and the words of other key figures involved) in this oral history by CBC Sports’ Myles Dichter with video by Steve Tzemis.
Australian athlete stood for rights at home and in the US
Mexico City, October 16, 1968: U.S. sprinters Tommie Smith (centre) and John Carlos (right) take the podium for their medal ceremony and raise their fists in the Black Power salute. At left is Australian silver medallist Peter Norman, who wore a civil rights badge in solidarity
By MARGARET REES
Thirty eight years ago, on October 16, 1968, the medals ceremony at the Mexico Olympics was converted into a symbolic demonstration of the struggle against oppression.
US black sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos, respectively first and third in the men’s 200 metres, defiantly raised clenched fist salutes as the American national anthem played. Their stand in support of civil rights and against racism reverberated internationally. The photograph of their protest has become one of the most recognised images in the world, after that of the first moon landing.
The unexpected silver medalist, 26-year-old Australian Peter Norman, wore a button of the “Olympic Project for Human Rights” – a civil rights protest movement set up by black athlete Harry Edwards before the Games – in support of his two fellow athletes. Continue reading
By TONY SEED*
Editorial, Shunpiking Magazine
September, 2000, Volume 5, Number 5, Issue #36
In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams. – Olympic oath
THE HUE AND CRY by the sports media about drug infractions and “cheats” in the current Olympics in Sydney, Australia reminds us that there is a murkier, unsporting side to the promotion of international athletics. The intense debate about sport and the responsibilities of athletes also brings to mind an old question; who does sport serve? Is the problem in sport just one of individual athletes? Continue reading
Olympic hype will not give Australia glorious self-confidence. Justice for its indigenous people might | JOHN PILGER, New Statesman
SYDNEY (October 13, 2000) – According to the folksy writer Matthew Engel, the glories of the Olympic Games have a cathartic effect on nations. The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles ‘helped the US regain the confidence it lost in Vietnam.’
He omitted to explain the benefits of this renewed confidence for the millions of bereaved, maimed and poisoned Vietnamese. As for the Sydney Olympics, he described a ‘glorious self-confidence’ that will ‘sustain Australia for years.’ Continue reading
By JOHN PILGER, New Statesman
SYNDEY (July 10, 2000) – MY FLIGHT TO SYDNEY was in a Qantas aircraft painted entirely in Aboriginal motifs. The airline calls it the “Wunala Dreaming” and offers a scale model in its duty-free catalogue. An in-flight video features the Aboriginal runner Cathy Freeman, said to be Australia’s one hope for an athletics gold medal at the Sydney Olympics. Along with her corporate sponsor, Qantas, she is described as “the spirit of Australia.” There is no hint of the true state of her people. Continue reading