Our Olympic kids are alright

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RECENTLY I was involved in a workshop aimed at creating a brand for Canberra for next year’s centenary celebrations.

One of the questions we were asked was: What does Canberra mean to you?

To me, it is all about community and pride in the achievements of people within the community, in particular sportspeople representing Canberra. It gives us a chance to celebrate success.

Even though cyclist Michael Rogers lives in Italy, he is still Canberra’s Michael Rogers. It is the same with any number of athletes often becoming well-known after they have left the ACT to live elsewhere.

The upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games gives us another opportunity to exhibit that pride.

What follows is a rough guide to Canberra athletes and athletes based here preparing for the Olympics. To make the team is an achievement in itself.

Caroline Buchanan was born, raised and lives in Canberra. She is ranked number two in the world of BMX and has emerged as a genuine gold-medal prospect for London.

Lauren Boden has emerged from a background in Little Athletics in the ACT to make the Australian Track and Field team in the 400 metres hurdles; just making the semi-finals in Olympic track and field is deemed to be a success. It’s worth noting that Caroline and Lauren are wonderful role models, spending time in schools and in the community talking about what it takes to be successful in life, not just sport.

Fellow 400 metres hurdler, Brendan Cole, is another from coach Matty Beckenham’s stable in Canberra.

Sprinter Melissa Breen has travelled halfway across the world chasing an “A qualifier” in the 100 metres.

Marathoner Martin Dent missed out on running a qualifying time in the London Marathon and his possible selection rests in the hands of the selectors. The only Australian male to have qualified for the Games in the marathon is Michael Shelley who spent a number of years training under Dick Telford in Canberra.

Former Canberra resident Zoe Buckman has qualified for the 1500 metres.

AIS-based Paralympian, Evan O’Hanlon is the fastest cerebral palsy runner in the world.

Walkers such as Nathan Deeks, Jarred and Claire Tallent have spent many hours walking the streets of Canberra as part of their training.

Glen Turner and Andrew Charters are vying for a place in the world number-one-ranked men’s hockey team; Anna Flannigan is going through the same selection process in the women’s.

Rower Sarah Cook is in contention to compete in her second Olympics after Rowing Australia confirmed that a women’s eight would be going to Lucerne in a bid to qualify for the Games.

Olympic gold medalist in the men’s double sculls Scott Brennan, who worked as an intern at Canberra Hospital after winning gold in Beijing, is back with David Crawshay to defend his title.

Swimmer Alicia Coutts almost counts as a Canberran; although based at the AIS, she is involved in many community projects in this city.

Basketballers Patrick Mills and Lauren Jackson have plied their trade overseas this year, but will spearhead our men’s and women’s teams in London.

Marianna Tolo and Carly Wilson are also seeking to be part of the Australian women’s basketball team.

Cyclist Vicki Whitelaw is another to watch out for in the women’s road race. Unfortunately, Daniel Ellis missed selection, but Alex Bird remains in contention.

Boxer Bianca Elmir is also in the hunt for the Olympics with women’s boxing in the Games for the first time.

We could stretch a little and claim beach volleyballer Natalie Cook as one of ours; she is vying for selection in her fifth Olympics with assistance provided by the ACT Academy of Sport.

As I said, this is a rough guide to Canberra athletes preparing for the Olympics. Keep an eye out for these and others who are still vying for selection. This is the event they’ve all been working so hard to make. We wish them all the best.


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Tim Gavel
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