Sport From World War II shellings at Bondi Beach to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics — Phil Coles reflects

01:21  17 july  2021
01:21  17 july  2021 Source:   msn.com

Coles in-store butchers face the chopping block as supermarket considers all pre-packaged meat

  Coles in-store butchers face the chopping block as supermarket considers all pre-packaged meat Hundreds of trade-qualified butchers may be "redeployed" and meat only provided pre-packaged under a proposal being considered by the supermarket giant.The move could see trade-qualified butchers and other meat workers "redeployed" into different roles, according to the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union.

a man looking at the camera: Three time Olympian Phil Coles is heading back to Tokyo, to pay tribute to his 1964 teammates. (ABC Sport) © Provided by ABC Grandstand Three time Olympian Phil Coles is heading back to Tokyo, to pay tribute to his 1964 teammates. (ABC Sport)

The oldest Australian at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be a kayaker who competed in Tokyo 1964. He's going back to commemorate that event and remember his three teammates, who have all since passed away.

They had planned to travel to Tokyo 2020 together but now Phil Coles is the only one left.

He'll turn 90 on July 20 and plans to mark it a day later when Brisbane will be announced as host of the 2032 Olympic games.

There will be celebrations for sure, but sadness too for the man who will be alone when he relives one of the greatest moments of his life — reaching an Olympic final, against all the odds and against the might of the Europeans.

Four-time gold medal winner Dawn Fraser's Olympic legacy still stretches from Australia to Japan

  Four-time gold medal winner Dawn Fraser's Olympic legacy still stretches from Australia to Japan The self-described "cheeky little rascal" made history in the Olympic swimming pool and even inspired a future Japanese prime minister when she competed at the 1964 Games in Tokyo, writes Tracey Holmes.Dawn Fraser is one.

His journey began at Bondi Beach.

Born, raised and still there today, he is one of the oldest members of the North Bondi Surf Club where we agree to meet.

He knows every part of Bondi Beach and can identify the lines in the surf with the familiarity of the lines on his 89-year-old hands.

It was first his childhood playground, then the place where he honed the athletic skills that saw him compete as a kayaker in three Olympic games – Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964 and Mexico City 1968.

He remembers the beach covered in barbed wire as shells rained down during World War II, the same beach where he now sits with others of his generation looking back on a life that showed him a world others only dreamt about.

It was a chance meeting on the fringes of the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games that changed the course of his life.

Tokyo Olympics: The greatest show on earth set to begin as the threat of the Delta variant looms

  Tokyo Olympics: The greatest show on earth set to begin as the threat of the Delta variant looms Just days before the opening ceremony, Tokyo has reported its highest number of new coronavirus cases in almost six months and experts warn it could get much worse from here.A Qantas charter flight arrived at Narita Airport last night, before they spent hours waiting for saliva tests to confirm nobody is carrying the virus.

"This club – the whole club – were my masters.

"I met some very, very competent and really tough life-savers.

"They taught me, not to drink a good bottle of beer, but how to be a good life-saver."

You get the sense they taught him both.

He stares into the distance with a look and a chuckle that cannot easily be put into words.

Memories spanning the best part of a century are momentarily relived.

"Basically, [the surf club] was my life. That's how it started," he says.

"I bought a surf ski and I started racing, and I won the Australian championship."

It was the 1956 Championships held in Melbourne at the same time as the Olympic Games.

"In the race was all the Australian Olympic kayak members. I beat all of them.

"So they came up to me and said, 'come to the Olympics in Rome with us'."

"What have I got to do?" he asked them.

"'You've got to buy a kayak from Denmark'," they said.

"I said 'oh, yeah'." He pauses, chuckles, and reflects some more.

The moment that gave Aussie flagbearer 'thrills'

  The moment that gave Aussie flagbearer 'thrills' Patty Mills hopes to emulate Cathy Freeman by uniting Australia when he walks out as flagbearer at the opening ceremony.Mills will be joined by swimmer Cate Campbell at the opening ceremony in Tokyo, a historic pairing for Australia, with Campbell the first female swimmer to be given the honour.

"'How do I that?'" he then asks them.

Coles sold his car and held a raffle here and there to be able to afford the kayak along with the import duty he had to pay, but he reckons it was the best decision he ever made.

Coles's three teammates were all members of Maroubra surf club, 10 kilometres south of North Bondi, but the interclub rivalry was put aside as they joined forces for the games.

"We were all lifesavers, we all paddled skis in the surf – double skis, single skis … Dennis came over to North Bondi for a couple of seasons so we could paddle together in the double ski.

"Barry and Dennis [Green] never split, they were a partnership in skis, a partnership in double kayak, and they were a good double.

"They were really, really good, they won a lot of double ski races. A lot.

"Dennis Green, for sure, he was tough as nails. We were training one night out at the lake and we had a coach from Romania.

"We all finished our work, and Yoenl was his name, Yoenl Sandalescu, he came down and he says, 'where are you going?'

"And (Dennis) says, 'I'm finished'.

"He [the coach] says, 'no, no, no.'

"And Dennis says, 'I'm tired, I'm very tired, I worked very hard.'

First match in Tokyo called off due to COVID

  First match in Tokyo called off due to COVID The very first match of the Olympic beach volleyball tournament has been cancelled due to a COVID-19 positive.The very first match of the Olympic beach volleyball tournament has been cancelled because a Czech player tested positive for COVID-19.

"Yoenl looked in the boat, he looked down the bottom, 'No, no, no,' he says, 'there's no blood, I cannot see the blood', he says, 'you must do one more lap'."

Coles's first Olympics was Rome 1960.

As he tells it, a big, tall German competitor wandered over towards him at the boatshed where the kayaks were all stored.

Coles was unpacking his from the timber box it had been shipped in.

"He says 'hello my friend – are you kayak?'

"I said 'yes, kayak', and he started to laugh.

"I looked up at him, cause he's pretty big, and he just laughs.

"In the race, he was such a big guy, he got in his kayak and he nearly sank it."

Now it is Coles who laughs.

Coles competed at three Olympics before moving into sports administration and becoming an IOC member — where sporting headlines have often made way for stories of scandal, politics and even corruption.

The tightest of friendships can be torn apart by Olympic politics but these are stories for another day.

For the time being it is back to Tokyo 1964, where Coles and his K-4 teammates celebrated their best results.

They didn't win a medal but against the best in the world they were chuffed to reach the final.

"I want to go back because Tokyo was the last time I thought I'd see these guys that I paddled with.

"And I wanted to see where we were in those days and in Tokyo was our …"

Here are some of the big moments to watch out for during the Tokyo Olympics

  Here are some of the big moments to watch out for during the Tokyo Olympics No-one can predict all the highlights of the Tokyo Olympics ahead of time, but here are our picks for surefire excitement across the Games. All Olympics coverage will be on Channel 7, and times are in AEST.Ariarne Titmus and the women's 400m freestyleOk, let's start with the obvious.The swimming finals are regularly some of the most watched events at any Olympics.This year's Australian team will put forward a strong offering and one of our best medal hopes is Ariarne Titmus.

He doesn't finish the sentence as he drifts back into the past.

"We could have won it," he finally says.

"We were too small in build but we made the final.

"We were halfway through the race and I thought, geez, we can win this but then the big brutes started paddling past us and you know, they didn't laugh at us but they beat us … it was a tough race."

They were tough times, too.

It was 20 years after the war, when the world was experiencing a remarkable era of rebuilding, growth and social progress.

After its humiliating defeat in the war, Tokyo 1964 was Japan's tentative return to the global stage.

"Those days, the Japanese really didn't know what to do … but they were really, really anxious to learn and they did.

"They were very skilful, they were courteous and ready to help … whenever we needed help they were there … really, really, terrific it was.

"I'm going back because of course, I want to see the Olympics again but mainly I'm going back because I want to go back to the lake that we raced on, I've forgotten the name of it now."

It was Lake Sagami, 60 kilometres west of Tokyo, now a pleasure park for campers, swimmers, hikers and fishers.

"If I'm allowed to, if I can get someone to drive me out …

"I want to go to the lake that we raced on and I've got these four medallions here that will represent each of them, each of the guys, and uh, I want to get out on the lake and throw them into the water.

"I hope they're watching."

He smiles. He laughs.

"I hope they're watching,' he says again. This time his head lowers, to hide the tears rolling down his cheeks.

"They'll be there. I know they'll be there."

How to watch the Tokyo Olympics in Australia

  How to watch the Tokyo Olympics in Australia Australians won't have to stay up late to watch most events as we share similar time zones to Japan. Here's how you can watch the Tokyo Olympics.The Games are due to run until Sunday, August 8, as long as case numbers remain under control.

On this winter morning, the waves are breaking cleanly off Bondi with a light south-westerly creating perfect conditions for the few surfers who are not at work or school.

There are joggers going by. There's even a COVID-19 testing tent in the car park in case anyone was wondering which era we are now in.

Coles remembers it didn't always look like this.

During the war, there was barbed wire where the joggers are now.

Instead of surfers sitting out beyond the breaking waves, there was a Japanese submarine that on June 8, 1942, starting shelling the area.

"The entire beach … there were three or four rows of barbed wire, right along.

"Buoys way out [to sea] to catch any illegal shipping that was coming in.

"Sydney harbour was buoys everywhere to catch any submarines that were coming through, or trying to get through. One got through.

"Yes. It was an experience.

"I was living with mum and dad up in Bondi and we were there the night the Japanese submarine surfaced offshore here and just pumped random shells into … anywhere.

"And I heard the siren go and I walked out and there's dad on the veranda, looking around, you know. Shells were coming over the top."

He pinches his fingers and waves them over his head like bullets passing close by. His voice turns to a whisper.

"I said, dad, what are you doing?

"'Oh, these buggers are trying to hit us'," he says.

The fear of his childhood subsides. He sees the world differently now.

Time heals and a serious moment then becomes funny in the retelling now.

"In those days most of the toilets were up in the backyard, and one of the shells got a direct hit.

"It blew the toilet to buggery!

"Luckily, there was no-one in there when it all happened.

"That's one of the memories of the war, and this beach was not what it is now.

"I've never forgotten those days. I was only a youngster."

Twenty-two years later he was a visitor in Japan, marching as an Olympian under the Australian flag.

"Well, it tells me one thing, and I get it every time … when you get to the [Olympic] village, and you're in the Olympic city and everyone's shaking hands with everyone, your arms around each other, it's a new world.

"It's hard to explain.

"I can't describe it any other way, other than the atmosphere is different … it is different socially, it is different politically, everyone's different.

"But there's one thing … everyone is taking the Olympic spirit.

"If anyone asks me to explain, what is the Olympic spirit, you've got to be there to see it and feel it."

Even without crowds this time around, and the inability to mix in the Athletes' Village, Coles says the Olympic experience will forever change them.

He has a message for the Australian athletes who will be making their Olympic debuts at Tokyo 2020:

"Well, it'll be different but there's one thing you must do — enjoy the experience.

"Try your best, do your best. It'll hurt. If it doesn't hurt, you're not trying."

Djokovic targets four Grand Slams and Olympic gold .
World No 1 and 20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic has revealed he set out to win four Grand Slams and Olympic gold before the start of the season. © Associated Press Novak Djokovic is 'ready, motivated and inspired' ahead of the Tokyo Olympics Djokovic, who has already won the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon titles this year, is on target to complete a calendar Grand Slam, but the Serb wants to add Olympic gold to his trophy-laden collection and complete the Golden Slam.

usr: 1
This is interesting!