Heroes by Nur  
 
 


  AUSTRALIAN HEROES

It is generally accepted worldwide that national identity reflects cultural customs and these have a great influence on the hero's life. In the ancient world the word hero mostly appeared in literature. From time to time the usage of the word became more extended. It was related to the evolution of human beings and their activities from the primitives to Greeks, Assiro- Babylonians, Chinese, Egyptians and the Irish.

The term was also used in a specialized sense for any figure celebrated in the ancient legends of a people in the modern world. Beginning from the Medio-Eva era to World War ll, the word hero was largely contemplated to refer to people with extraordinary courage and who have sacrificed their lives to defend their country or beliefs, because they were fighting for what they believed was right.

Today, the word hero has a different interpretation worldwide, and it is related to the new way of thinking about our generation’s values. This new way of thinking is based on peace, co-operation, tolerance, democracy, and freedom of the press and mutual respect among the States and individuals. Also it is based on creating, developing and inventing new technologies and methods that should enable us to achieve our greatest hopes and desires.

My short definition of a hero is a person who is admired, especially for having done something extraordinarily good or difficult. Also he/she is a person who commits an act of remarkable strength and has shown great courage, strength of character, or other admirable qualities like sports, arts, peace-making, scientific inventions etc.

Sports heroes are one of the most valuable heroes in our modern world because sport is the only activity, which brings the entire world together from king to servant, from rich to homeless. Sport is often free from racism, class structure, religion, cultural diversity and political systems. Australian society is a family of sport. We admire our sporting heroes possibly too much and their achievements are recorded in our minds and stamped deeply in our hearts.

Cathy Freeman and Dawn Fraser are part of the Australian sports heroes family and both of these women have deserved to be named Australian heroes. They were duly honoured when they took part in the process of the lighting of the flame at the Olympic Games 2000 in Sydney. In particular Cathy Freeman, an aboriginal woman, became the first athlete in Olympic history to be honored by being asked to light the Olympic Flame in Sydney 2000 and then to win a gold medal running in the four hundred metres . After her win she said,

it’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl and that’s why I got really emotional …something like this happening to a little girl like me. Channel 7, September 2000.

Catherine Astrid Salome Freeman was born on February 16 1973 in Mackay, Queensland. She was awarded these honours on following occasions:

Young Australian of the year 1990
Commonwealth Track Athlete 1994
Moomba Monarch 1995
Inducted into Sports Australia Hall of Fame 1996
Australian Female Athlete of the year 1997
Australian of the Year 1998

Major victories
4x100m relay at Commonwealth Games 1990
200m at Commonwealth Games 1994
400m at Commonwealth Games 1994
400m at Brussels Grand prix 1996
400m at World Championships 1997

Other achievements
Silver medal for 400mat the Olympic Games 1996
First Australian Woman to break 50 seconds for 400m
First Aboriginal woman to win an individual Olympic medal
First Australian woman to win a world Championship Gold medal
Ranked Track & Field News world number one female athlete for 400m 1997
First Australian woman and Aboriginal Person lighted the flame of Olympic Games 2000
First Aboriginal woman to win a Gold Medal 400m in Olympic Games.

Cathy Freeman’s grandfather was Frank Fisher, a rugby league player. When the opportunity arose for him to play England, Australian authorities in charge of Aboriginal affairs would not let him leave the country. Cathy, too, has encountered racism from an early age. While still in primary school Cathy returned home from carnival in which she had won five events. She was not, however, given trophy, even though the white girls who had finished in second place behind her received them. Years later, after victory in the 400m at the 1994 Commonwealth Games wrapped herself in the Australian and Aboriginal flags for her lap on honour, in order to show everyone that she was proud to be in an Aboriginal Australian.(A-Z of Australian Sports Stars book 2).

Dawn Fraser deserved to be the first lady with IOC president Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch in the opening ceremony of 2000 Olympic Games Sydney. Dawn Fraser born 4 September 1937 in Sydney, NSW. Awarded during her activities in Sports the following awards:

Australian of the year 1964
MBE(Member of the Order of the British Empire 1967
Voted Australia’s greatest female athlete in 1988

Major victories
100m freestyle at Olympic Games 1956, 1960, 1964
4x100m freestyle relay at Olympic Games 1956
110 yards freestyle at Commonwealth Games 1958, 1962
440 yards freestyle at Commonwealth Games 1962

Olympic and Commonwealth Games Attended
Melbourne Olympic Games 1956
Cardiff Commonwealth Games 1958
Rome Olympic Games 1960
Perth Commonwealth Games 1962
Tokyo Olympic Games 1964

Other Achievements
First female to swim 100m freestyle in under one minute
Only swimmer to win a gold medal in the same event at three consecutive Olympic Games
Held the world record for 100m freestyle for 15 years.

Dawn Fraser first began swimming as a way of coping with asthma, though she later found she was allergic to chlorine. When swimming coach Harry Gallagher saw her swim, he was so impressed he offered to coach her free of charge because her parent could not afford to pay.

Throughout her career, Dawn often swam under a great deal of pressure. Sometimes it was because the Australian Public expected so much of her. At other times it was because of personal tragedy. Between the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome and the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Dawn’s father died of cancer and her mother died in a car accident in which Dawn, who was driving, was injured. Despite all her setbacks, Dawn held 39 world records throughout her career. From 1988 to 1991 she represented Bal main as an independent member of the NSW parliament and she now coaches swimmers.(A-Z of Australian Sports Stars book 2).

 

These two Australian women one white, one aboriginal, have unified multicultural Australia as a nation at different times in our history. They’ve changed our national stereotype from the white bushman/larrikin hero who lives off and fights the landscape, to an international image of Australia and Australians as a society that respects and celebrates many cultural differences but has a common bond of nationhood and acceptance.

Bibliography

Justin Healey, Australia’s National Identity, Vols 126,133
The Spinney Press Australia NSW, 2000

Noel Pearson, Australia’s National Identity
The Age 29/10/99

Richard Woolcott AC, Australia’s National Identity
The Australian 28/1/2000

Adam Jamrozik, Cathy Boland and Robert Urquhart, Social Change and Cultural Transformation in Australia
Cambridge University Press, 1995

Nicolas Brasch, A-Z of Australian Sports Stars Book 2
Heinemann Library Australia, 1998

 

   
 

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