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Cadel Evans

Sports broadcaster TIM GAVEL says there’s a place to acknowledge the Tour de France champion in Canberra

AT first glance, my campaign to have Stromlo Forest Park renamed the Cadel Evans Park was a failure lasting less than a week.

It started with an e-mail from a listener after Cadel had ridden his way into history as the first Australian to win the Tour de France. I enthusiastically threw my support behind the name change; after all Cadel started his career as a mountain bike champion before focusing on road cycling.
The Stromlo Forest Park facility accommodates both disciplines, but the fact it’s a multi-purpose facility with a cross-country running course and equestrian trails, blew my campaign out of the water.
At first, this seemed to make sense, but let’s consider the naming of other sports complexes.
The newly opened Heather McKay Indoor Sports Centre in Queanbeyan boasts facilities for indoor cricket, indoor soccer and netball. But hang on, didn’t Heather make her mark as a hockey player then went on to win 16 British Open squash titles before success in veterans tennis?
I completely support the naming of a sports facility in honour of Heather, but the centre doesn’t cater for any of the sports in which she excelled.  Good on the Queanbeyan City Council!
Another objection to my campaign was that Cadel is not a Canberra athlete and, therefore, naming the facility in his honour is hard to justify.
No so; Canberra is the national capital and the symbolism of naming a facility in the here in honour of Australia’s first winner in the Tour de France should not be summarily dismissed.
Also, there are plenty of streets in Canberra named in honour of people who had little association with the ACT, but had an impact on Australia during their lives.
Now, I concede that streets are not named after people until 12 months after their death. Along with this same theme, I was challenged by somebody who said that you couldn’t name a sporting facility after somebody until they had died.
It is different with sporting facilities; there is the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre and the list goes on.
If there is a problem with the name, the Cadel Evans Park because it includes running and equestrian as well as cycling, why not name it the Cadel Evans Multi-Sport Facility?
Sometimes I think we are too quick to dismiss ideas because they don’t slot neatly into a category. My campaign has just started again…

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Tim Gavel
Journalist and ABC sports broadcaster

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