CANBERRA sport is littered with inspirational stories of overcoming incredible odds to achieve success.
There’s Michael Milton’s incredible achievements in a multitude of sports after losing a leg to bone cancer; the Raiders becoming the first team to win the premiership from fifth place; the ACT Australian Rules team beating the might of the Big “V”; or the Comets upset victory over Victoria in the domestic one-day cricket series.
Already this year there are another three great stories for the list, including the ACT Meteors beating a star-studded NSW Breakers’ team in the semi-finals of the T20 National Women’s Cricket League.
The Meteors were not given a chance against the Breakers, the defending champions. The ACT had only beaten NSW once before, but the Breakers’ team this time was bolstered by the nucleus of the Australian women’s team that won four out of six games in the Ashes series. In fact, they had seven Australian players as well as a number from the Australia A team.
The Meteors, with one current Australian player, hadn’t played for six weeks and were well beaten by Queensland in their last game before the finals.
Knowing they are very much the underdogs, coach Andrew Dawson enlisted former marathon champion Rob de Castella to inspire the players with a speech about remaining calm under pressure, and taking time to enjoy the moment.
The players adhered to those words to the letter, with the ACT beating NSW by 12 runs.
THEN there was the performance by the Canberra Cavalry in making the final of the Australian Baseball League. Beaten by the Sydney Blue Sox 18 to 11 in the opening game of the preliminary finals series at Narrabundah, the Cavalry had to travel to Sydney for the remainder of the series.
But the travel didn’t impact on the Cavalry performance; Canberra came back from being down a game to win the series two-one to make the final.
What makes this performance even more memorable is that the Cavalry had to change their roster mid-season. The ABL ruled that Canberra had to reduce its import quota by two players with coach Michael Collins forced to find Australians who weren’t getting an opportunity at other clubs.
Collins found a pitcher who was struggling to get a game with the lowly-placed Brisbane Bandits. Steven Chambers joined the Cavalry
late in the season. He got his chance in the finals series against Sydney and was an important factor in Canberra’s victory.
ANOTHER great story is that of Daniel Ellis, who grew up in Canberra and was always destined to be a champion cyclist. He moved to the Australian Institute of Sport program in Adelaide, but after years of gut-busting training, competition and travel, at the age of 23, he’d had enough. He wanted to discover the world, which is often foreign to elite sports people as they focus on getting the most out of the short time they have in sport; he wanted a job and to get on with the rest of his life.
He became a postie, riding a Honda 90 through the streets of Adelaide, married a local girl and settled down.
Eighteen months into full-time work he realised that the desire to be a competitive cyclist remained and decided to give it a go. This time it was different; he had a new perspective on his sport.
He decided to combine work with cycling and 11 months into his comeback he has been named in the Australian team for the World Track Cycling titles in Colombia to be held later this month.
To make a return to this level after being off the bike for 18 months is remarkable.
These inspiring stories provide an understanding of how people can be motivated to achieve well beyond their ability.
Through determination, persistence and self-belief, goals can be reached and new heights attained. We can all learn from these achievements.