By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Olympic Gold: Our Greatest Individual Olympians since 1896
Edited by Robin Poke & Kevin Berry (Murdoch Books, $49.99, hardcover, 376 pages)
To achieve an Olympic gold medal is the sporting achievement that “ensures entry into the Olympic pantheon”.
Australia has produced 74 individual Olympic gold medallists at both the Summer and Winter Games—and here are their inspirational journeys.
Sixteen years in the making, Olympic Gold documents the extraordinary feats of these remarkable individuals, from the double-gold medal wins by the track athlete Edwin Flack at the first of the modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 to the aerial skiing exploits of Lydia Lassila at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010.
“Each chapter provides unique insights into the myriad trials, tribulations and triumphs inherent in working towards and then becoming an Olympic champion, while also capturing the high drama that is an Olympic final.”
The rise to prominence of Australian women in the Olympic arena was evident at Helsinki in 1952. In 1956, Australia came of age within the Olympic movement by hosting the Games in Melbourne.
Chronicled along the way are Australia’s many famous victories in the swimming pool, alongside the lesser-known triumphs of Fanny Durack, Australia’s first female Olympic gold medallist and, of course, the era-defining achievement of Cathy Freeman at the Sydney Games in 2000.
Edited by sports historian Robin Poke and the late Kevin Berry, himself a gold medallist at the 1964 Olympics, this tome ensures that the legacy of the high achievers will live on forever.
The stories are told by a range of authors and the colour and black-and-white photographs, fast facts and information panels contribute to a significant addition to the catalogue of Olympic literature.
By recognising the “performances of comparatively unheralded champions”, it ensures their achievements are no less important in the annals of Australian Olympic history.
Olympic Gold confidently builds on the anticipated triumphs at the 2012 Olympics in London later this month.
Edition 400, 11 March 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.