BASKETBALLER Lauren Jackson’s profile has soared since carrying the Australian flag at the London Olympics.
When she is out in public it seems as though everybody wants a couple of moments of her time – a photo here, a photo there.
Not that she’s complaining; in fact, she welcomes the chance to speak with those who have supported her, but it is an eye opener to witness the public adoration first hand.
In the space of five minutes, two weeks ago outside Tilley’s Devine Cafe in Lyneham, she was approached by no fewer than five different groups wanting a moment with her. One group spotted her while driving past, found a park and shared a photographic moment.
I have seen many a high-profile male athlete storm off in similar circumstances, as though fans were a hindrance rather than part of the reason why they were able to carve out a living playing sport in the first place.
Lauren says she feels at ease being in Canberra. I guess it is a long way from the hype of the WNBA and the fishbowl that is the Olympics.
I remember Michael Klim telling me when he was at the AIS that one of the good things about Canberra was the general acceptance of high-profile athletes and that most people didn’t go over the top at the sight of an Olympian.
Why has the sight of Lauren Jackson resulted in those barriers disappearing?
Is it because Canberra is more open to the idea of a champion female sportsperson? Is it because she is regarded by many as the world’s best female basketball player and she is considered one of our own?
She started at the AIS when she was 16 and has conquered the world. I think it is a combination of all three.
Given her trailblazing role in women’s sport, it’s no surprise she wants to become an activist for women’s issues, gender equality and the prevention of domestic violence once her basketball days are over.
She says she has about three years left in the game before she makes a decision on whether to continue, pending her body holding up.
While she is playing for the Canberra Capitals, we should make the most of it; she is a once-in-a-generation athlete.
WITH the ACT election behind us, it will be fascinating to see the outcome for sport.
There were plenty of promises made during the campaign; the $4 million promised for the sports hub at the University of Canberra was one of them.
Is the proposed new indoor stadium, replacing Canberra Stadium, going to gain momentum over the next four years and will the swimming pool at Molonglo be built? There is a consensus that we should build a pool capable of hosting major events and multiple sports. One thing is certain: there’s plenty of room out at Stromlo Forest Park.