This year marks 40 years since Redfern resident and Aussie swimming icon Mark Tonelli and his team won gold in the 4×100-metre medley relay at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Tonelli recently reflected on the achievement. “Although we were ranked seventh out of the 13 competing teams, we were nicknamed the Quietly Confident Quartet. Neil Brooks swam the freestyle, Peter Evans the breaststroke, Mark Kerry the backstroke and I swam the butterfly.”
Sheer determination and self-belief saw them swim outstanding individual times to take the gold medal. When asked if he enjoyed the medley format, Tonelli quipped, “Yes, it’s great … but someone always has to swim the darn butterfly! Not that the backstroke is much better because you never know where you are going!”
Since those halcyon days Tonelli has been a keynote speaker on many occasions at sporting functions and has presented a real estate show on Foxtel.
He is a proud Redfern resident and is equally proud about the variety of swimming facilities in the local area. “It’s great that we have a choice of pools within walking distance. It would also be great to see increased development of talented Indigenous and non-Indigenous young swimmers.”
Pakistani pocket rocket
Muhammad Ikram, 32, takes aim, flexes his neck and strikes with his chin, sending the cue ball across the table and sinking his shot in a corner pocket. Born without arms, Ikram has nevertheless mastered the game of snooker.
In Samundri, a rural town in Punjab province, Ikram has spent eight years pushing a cue ball around with his chin, and now he can take on anyone.
Mian Usman Ahmed, co-owner of Cuemaster Snooker Club, says Ikram has won several prizes in local tournaments over the past two years. “Years ago he would come to the club and ask that he be allowed to play. We would look at him and feel he was unable to,” Ahmed said.
“I have met very good snooker players who tell me I am a real genius, and that I can bring great fame to Pakistan,” Ikram said.
One of nine born into a poor family, Ikram was uneducated and deprived as a child. His main pastime was watching people play snooker, a game no one dreamed he could ever play. He does not remember how the idea struck him, but somewhere along the line, he started practising in secret.
Ikram says people appreciate his undaunted spirit. He hopes one day, with government help, to play at the international level.
Souths do fans proud
Rugby league reporter John Lanzky thanks the mighty Rabbitohs for a great season. He says Souths has some very good young players, and next season will go all the way! Congratulations to Cody Walker and Damien Cook on NSW Blues selection.