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SPORT | FEATURE
WHAT EXACTLY WAS IT ABOUT BEACH
VOLLEYBALL THAT MADE IT YOUR SPORT?
I READ THAT YOU HAD EARLY DREAMS OF
BEING A SWIMMER?
I swam because my mum was a swimming
teacher and coming from Townsville, it
was really hot, so it was the thing that
every kid did. I got sick of the black line!
And it wasn’t interactive. So there was
a notice on the school noticeboard that
said, ‘Volleyball - Trip to Canada and
America’. That was the thing that got me
interested in volleyball. I just wanted to go
overseas. And then once I played the sport
I fell in love with it...I wasn’t very good
at playing with others! (Laughs) I think I
was too intense for a lot of my teammates.
Fortunately I found Kerri Pottharst. I
could do every sport except volleyball. I
wasn’t very good at it.
YOU’VE SAID THAT YOU WOULD VISUALISE
WINNING BEFORE COMPETITIONS. HOW
POWERFUL IS VISUALISATION?
For me, when you’re at the Olympic level,
I think it’s the most important part. That’s
the philosophy behind how Kerri Pottharst
and I won our Gold Medal. Every day we’d
wake up and say, ‘We’re Gold Medalists’.
We even surrounded ourselves with gold.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE MOMENT
YOU WON A GOLD MEDAL?
The happiest, most exciting time of your
life but you feel every emotion you felt in
the lead-up of 4 years...it’s like fireworks.
HAVE YOU HAD MANY LGBTI YOUTH
REACH OUT TO YOU AND SAY HOW MUCH
EASIER IT’S BEEN TO COME OUT BECAUSE
You’d...think that would happen. But what
I actually get is more of the parents of the
youth. In London...a lady came running
over...(and) tells me how helpful I’ve been
for her daughter. I don’t get a lot of youth
reach out - maybe because they’re intimi-
dated, which they don’t have to be!
CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT
Sandstorm was built out of (thinking) I
really want a home for beach volleyball,
where no one’s gonna take down the nets
and it’s gonna be permanent...That’s when
I had a dream one night and thought: we
need to take it to the beach! So how do
I get it on the beaches, because Councils
don’t like you building things? Then the
brainwave came: surf clubs...So that’s my
YOU’VE BEEN WITH YOUR PARTNER FOR
13 YEARS NOW. DID YOU MEET THROUGH
We met after the Sydney Olympics. I went
back on tour in 2001 because volleyball
was how I made my living. Sarah was on
the tour playing for Canada. Ironically,
I invited her and her partner to come to
Australia to train - Canada was too cold,
and that’s how it started. There was no
hidden agenda in the beginning, but ah,
(Laughs) it sort of grew from there!
DO YOU AND SARAH WANT KIDS?
Absolutely. We’ve been in the process since
I retired in London (in 2012). We’ve got
2 godsons now and we just love them to
death; we can only imagine what it’s going
to be like to have our own. So hopefully
we’ll have news in the coming months that
we’re having a child.
AS AN ATHLETE, YOU MUST HAVE SOME
AMAZING TRAVEL STORIES.
I sit and look at an atlas and think about
what countries are left and there aren’t
many! I’ve been lucky enough to not only
travel to them, but to also experience the
best of them on the beaches in a sport
that’s quite glamorous. I’ve gone from
Brazil, Copacabana, to playing in the Swiss
Alps, then to Austria and under the Eiffel
Tower in Paris.
IF YOU WERE STILL COMPETING AT THE
TIME OF THE RUSSIAN OLYMPICS, WOULD
YOU HAVE BOYCOTTED THE GAMES?
I don’t think so...Without the 3 weeks of
the Olympic Games...there would never
have even been that environment where -
not that it was accepted - but it certainly
expanded their views and their rules. The
Olympics was the only thing that was ever
going to do that. I can tell you the athletes
that didn’t go were very upset that they
AND WHAT ABOUT SPORTING HEROES?
Michael Jordan and Greg Norman...
they’ve always been my idols.
DO YOU THINK AUSTRALIAN SPORT IS VERY
I do. I think it’s because of the sports
Australia has chosen to embrace culturally
- the 4 football codes: the NRL, the AFL,
the Union, and the soccer. Then we see
our female athletes who do the best at the
Olympics - they’re definitely taking home
more than 50% of the medals, but you
only see them once every 4 years.
HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED ANY
Although I’ve had fleeting moments of
wondering whether that was the reason I
didn’t get a sponsorship...I’ve never had
anything confronting. But I really don’t
attract that energy. My space is so positive
that any homophobia won’t get close.
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