Thursday, March 26, 2015

Stephen Holland and Malcom Fraser

I am indebted to Byter Vince C for bringing the anecdote below to my attention.

Australia did not do well in the 1976 Summer Olympics at Montreal. 180 competitors took part in 115 events in 20 sports, winning one silver medal and 4 bronze. The East Germans, Russians and Americans dominated.

Although it had been decided that Waltzing Matilda would be played as the Australian anthem at medal ceremonies, it was never played because there was no gold.

Stephen Holland was Australia’s last hope of a gold medal in the swimming. His event was the 1500-metre freestyle but he was beaten into the gold and silver by American swimmers. It had been common knowledge for some time that other countries were putting a lot more effort and money into training of their athletes. Holland was not in the best mood as he got out of the pool, angry and annoyed at the lack of government support for Australian athletes.

He was told that there was a phone call for him in the press box. 

The caller said "Steve, this is Malcolm Fraser. I just wanted to say on behalf of the nation that you've done our country proud, and I wanted to offer my sincere congratulations."

Holland replied "Mate, where were you when I needed you? And I didn't vote for you, anyway. Fuck off."

It is believed that Holland’s words were part of the impetus for Fraser establishing the Australian Institute of Sport.

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