Part 2: Fukuoka, Japan
80’s rock anthems are booming from the Canadian area, the aroma of coffee is wafting over from the Swiss camp, national flags of every design are hung with pride and activities like chiropractors contorting their athletes every which way are happening all over the place! The whole area is marked out with gaffa tape, to divide the areas into countries. These are fiercely guarded spaces, that can be anywhere from 1.5x1.5m to 3m x 4m2 (considered spacious by team areas standards!), depending on the size of the team.
A wall of stickers: Amidst this labyrinth of team areas, is Australia’s realm, marked by the iconic green and gold. The main backdrop to our team area is one of my favourite traditions adopted by all countries at international swimming events – an ever-expanding wall of semi-final and final stickers. To me, each sticker is a testament to the relentless pursuit of excellence that each of our Dolphins undertakes to compete at the highest level. When you see how hard this team works to get the results that they achieve it really is an honour to watch them stick those stickers on the wall!
Courage: One of the team’s values is courage. This was present in torrents throughout the entire competition as we witnessed moments such as rookie Kai Taylor dive in for his first race and win gold in the relay or Ariarne Titmus execute a flawless race in the 400m Freestyle - obliterating the World Record. In the lead up to the event, it was aptly dubbed ‘the race of the century’ (no pressure!!) and she handled the pressure with grace.
Not to be forgotten is Sam Short who strategically led out his competitors, at times by two body lengths for 900m in the 1500m freestyle, finally placing 3rd. There was so many personal best performances and amazing achievements from all members of the team. It was a privilege to watch these guys in action.
Now back in Australia, I find myself at a loss for words when clients ask about my trip. The experience defies words; it was nothing short of spectacular. As I reflect on what has undeniably become one of Australia's great sporting achievements, I am reminded that some moments in life transcend words. This journey, with its victories, and profound camaraderie, stands as a testament to the pursuit of excellence and the essence of sportsmanship of the Dolphins swim team. This is a trip that will be hard to forget.