As someone who has become increasingly disinterested in professional sports in recent years, I was surprised by my level of interest in the Commonwealth Games. However, the spectacle of the opening and closing ceremonies wasn’t the drawcard; I was captured by the outstanding performances of the athletes.
It’s easy to play the patriotic card and cheer when our national team-members do well, but the contests proved worthy no matter what the result.
Our athletes’ victories were cause enough to cheer but there were some glorious performances in defeat too. I watched an amazing game of women’s rugby 7s (my first time) and was impressed by the sheer tempo of the game. The Netball Diamonds would be disappointed in being pipped for gold but were still amazing to watch. We saw great sportsmanship from Australian runners who were the only ones to wait for the last runner from Lesotho to complete the women’s 10,000 metres. A group of us were captivated by the unfolding drama in the track and field arena, where we became immediate armchair experts on the pole vault, long jump and discus.
Our national teams did us proud in winning 198 medals (including 80 gold) across 19 different competitions. We had victories ranging from Artistic Gymnastics through Shooting and Weightlifting.
As a former athlete, I know just how hard it can be for many of these competitors to financially support their passion. For every professional there are many, many more who live on ‘the smell of an oily rag’ to compete in their chosen sport. Even a Commonwealth Games gold medal won’t provide respite from the financial woes that impact the lives of many of our sporting champions.
As it currently stands, the Federal Government is the largest funder of sport in Australia pumping around $265 million into sport through the Australian Sports Commission. Some will say this is too much whilst others will say it is not enough. However it is fair to say that without this money, Australia’s non-professional sports system would grind to a halt. There simply isn’t enough sponsorship available because many of the sports do not attract the public interest or eyeballs that attract corporate marketing budgets.
Thankfully, there are some philanthropists who are willing to go where others won’t. One of them is Gina Rinehart.
Unknown to many, Gina Rinehart has spent millions of dollars supporting a range of non-contact sports that have helped them to achieve amazing success. She has done so with little public recognition aside from the grateful thanks of athletes and coaches.
Her foundation and private companies have been long-term sponsors of the Swimming and Beach Volleyball teams. The swimmers were our most successful Commonwealth team whilst Beach Volleyball delivered a gold and silver in the respective divisions. The sponsorship money allowed the athletes to perform at their best and to realise their dreams.
However, the Rinehart support of sport extends beyond the current games. Few would realise her sponsorship of Synchronised Swimming and Rowing run into the millions of dollars. In the case of Rowing (a sport with which I am familiar), this has enabled a new level of professionalism that is already achieving fantastic results.
In a time when even some professional sports are strapped for sponsorship, the engagement of our most successful businesswoman in helping our athletes develop our sporting ethos and culture is more important than ever. The Rinehart sporting partnership has already demonstrated its merit and I can only hope it will inspire more to do the same.
Our continued sporting success may well depend upon it.
Until next week.
Things that make you go hmmm
UN condemns Aussie caring, ATO revenue-hunters go rogue and NSW’s Powerhouse Museum saga goes to water. The Sunshine State’s surf clubs are singled out, Gold Coast meter maids defy Games bans and is this FNQ’s luckiest shih-tzu? Nomads get a cold SA welcome but an Aussie franchise hits a Fury Roadblock. Beating themselves up this week: Optus, Starbucks, Elon Musk, and Macron, whilst Charlize seeks a third homeland, this mum isn’t Vogue.
Great sports in Boston but only after this poser – for which a Canadian prison forked out but should the US Army? Russia bans killer app, Oregon’s sinking under fat cats, British Isles weigh rubbish taxes but no Guernesy for head boy and girl here. First they came for Apu, now Willie. Silicon Valley branded ‘racist’ and ‘colonialist’ (as is this game) Germany flips freedom fighters for colonialism - but could it be chic?