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www.mn.catholic.org.au Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
There is so much more to the Olympics than meets the (London) eye as Josh Callinan
discovered, keeping watch on Hunter athletes at London 2012.
GLORIOUS GOLD MEDALS and
unforgettable signature celebrations
may grab the headlines but on the
ground there was an undeniable presence
of spirit as the world united for three
wonderful weeks at the Games of the
Less than a minute had passed since
the full-time whistle had sounded and the
reality was yet to sink in.
Four years of preparation and the dream
of an Olympic gold medal had been taken
away in a cruel twist of fate delivered by the
sporting powers that be.
The Australian men's hockey team, more
affectionately known as the Kookaburras,
had been beaten 4-2 in its semi-final
encounter against eventual London 2012
champions, Germany, after leading 2-1 in
the early stages of the second half.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the world
number one ranked squad, which had
remained unbeaten at major international
tournaments since the end of 2008.
But amidst the celebrations of the
opposition, the bowed heads of the
defeated resting inside their hands and the
consoling pats on the back from coaching
staff - one man stood tall amongst the rest.
A Maitland man, 26 years of age and
making his Olympic debut, was the first
player to shake hands with the victors.
Simon Orchard made the effort to
walk across the other side of the field
to congratulate the Germans on their
progression to the final and for quite some
time the former student of St Mary's
Campus, All Saints College Maitland, was
the only man wearing green and gold out in
the middle at Riverbank Arena.
An understandably shattered Australian
crew slumped to the ground around the
dugouts contemplating what might have
been. Eventually they kicked into gear, but
it was Orchard's initiative that prompted
the rest to act.
This golden effort was the sign of a leader,
an act of good sportsmanship (take note
aspiring juniors) and most importantly
provided a timely reminder of the
As disappointed as Orchard may have been,
as much as he wanted to exit quickly - he
knew there was more at stake.
It was the realisation that the Games
represent more than just the aspirations
of an individual and the hopes of a nation
in pursuit of boosting their position on
the medal tally.
It was the realisation that while winning
is important, and of course feels much
better than losing, at the end of the day it
And it was the realisation that he was part
of something much bigger than just another
This was sport at its highest endeavour, a
multi-faceted event that unifies the flags of
almost every nation on the one stage, and
a time of peace for almost three weeks in a
sometimes troublesome world.
Take for example the poignant photograph
of two competitors departing the battlefield
arms wrapped around each other's
shoulders -- only the embroidery on their
uniforms told them that their home lands,
the USA and Iran, had run into political
issues in the past.
Take the South Sudanese refugee, Guor
Marial, who won the right to compete at
the Olympics as an independent athlete,
breaking down geographical borders
and highlighting the importance of the
participant rather than country.
Take the duo from Saudi Arabia, Wojdan
Shaherkhani and Sarah Attar, who became
the first females from their country to
compete at an Olympic Games, making
massive headway into the issue of gender
equality in the conservative Kingdom nation.
Take the gardener and pool attendant
turned Olympic rower in Hamadou Djibo
Issaka of Niger, a crowd favourite, being
cheered to cross the line in last place in
each of his races just three months after
taking up the sport.
And take the $67,000 raised by a group of
Games volunteers who collectively donated
the money they would have been paid to a
charity that assists children in Uganda.
Of course the outstanding performances
of Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Bradley
Wiggins will not be forgotten in a hurry, but
these moments can be just as moving, and
as important, within the overall scheme of
By the way, the Kookaburras bounced
back 48 hours later and scored a bronze
medal with a 3-1 victory against hosts
Orchard scored the opening goal and
signalled home with his now trademark
celebration, 'the Ram', which recognises
his former Maitland club.
There were a few more smiles post
match this time around but it is all part of
Orchard, and each of the Hunter athletes,
were able to dance in the international
spotlight at London 2012 while bringing the
Olympic spirit a little closer to home.
By JOSH CALLINAN
” Angie Bainbridge (swimming)
” Suzy Batkovic (basketball)
” Richie Campbell (water polo)
” Thomas Fraser-Holmes (swimming)
” Benn Harradine (athletics)
” Iain Jensen (sailing)
” Kristy Oatley (equestrian)
” Lyndal Oatley (equestrian)
” Simon Orchard (hockey)
” Nathan Outteridge (sailing)
” Daniel Repacholi (shooting)
” Josh Ross (athletics)
” Jenni Screen (basketball)
” Brendan Sexton (triathlon)
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