By David McPherson
The wheels have been set in motion as the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast draw ever nearer, as processing sessions with a ‘long list’ of potential athletes started in Melbourne this week.
The sessions briefed the athletes on GC2018 and allowed them to complete a number of preliminary tasks.
Casual and ceremonial outfits were fitted, while photographers took accreditation photos.
Former Australian netball captain Sharelle McMahon spoke to the athletes about her experience competing on home soil in Melbourne in 2006.
“To me it felt like we could have been anywhere. It could’ve been on the other side of the world – that’s kind of the bubble that I felt we were in,” she said.
“The weird thing was you arrive at the venue and it looked different and felt different but it was the same. For me it was always these contrasts of being at home and feeling settled but also being completely separated.”
The dual-Commonwalth gold medallist stressed the importance of giving the Games everything you’ve got.
“Take your opportunities. I remember one world champs clearly over in Jamaica. We unfortunately lost that final by two goals.”
“I’ll never forget one of my teammates – she was a younger athlete. She said this is my first world champs and we’ll get another chance. She never went to another major tournament so take those chances and run with them and do your best.”
Lawn bowls bronze medallist and GC2018 aspirant Barrie Lester also spoke to the assembled athletes and their families about the Melbourne Games.
“We were quite fortunate for lawn bowls – some of our crowds were record breaking crowds,” he said.
“To think that lawn bowls was being covered by a major [television] network I sometimes had to pinch myself – we were actually getting some media attention.”
He reminisced on some of the perks of competing on home soil.
“I think for me the volunteers were a highlight in terms of the people. When you’re walking around the village, the amount of photos you’ll have with volunteers and the opportunities to get to know the volunteers is amazing.”
“Even to this day I meet people out at different bowls clubs saying I remember watching you in 2006.”
Lester also spoke of the drive required to achieve elite sporting success.
“Over the journey I’ve missed a lot of weddings and different events and parts of my life just to get to the top,” he said.
“I was so consumed in what I wanted to achieve that I did shut people out of my life. At the time it was hard to handle but if you sat down with them or spoke to them over the phone, once they knew the direction you were going they were right behind you.”