Columnist: ERIN BELL
How the 'C' word can ruin an Olympic dream
WITH just 25 days to go until the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, I can’t deny the unspoken regret floating around.
What type of regret? Regret for not going to London to watch the Games? Regret for not making the time to learn the rules of badminton or judo before now?
It is the regret of what could have been: the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve.
Those memories of the sport you used to be good at, but no longer play. The frustration that your parents didn’t force you to wake up at 5am every morning to become another Steph Rice.
The jealously towards those you played with in under-10s and who are still out there – and who are very good.
If this is you, you’re not alone when, during every Olympic TV commercial, you can’t help but think, “That could have been me”.
In the world of netballers, that Olympic dream is, of course, the impossible dream. Sadly, because netball is not an Olympic sport, that horrible question is common: “What if”.
We are privileged to compete at the Commonwealth Games and we have a world championship, but that doesn’t stop the Olympic dream.
Take my Thunderbirds teammate Sharni Layton, for example.
Growing up she was a keen horse rider, but the time came when she had to choose between netball and equestrian.
True to her passion, she tried to do both and took her horse with her when she was on scholarship at the AIS. But despite Sharni’s passion she had to give up her dream of representing Australia in equestrian to pursue netball.
That dreaded ‘C’ word is something most elite athletes come across in their journey to the top – “choose”. Fortunately Sharni turned out to be fairly good at netball.
My Olympic fantasy is all about athletics. If only I was a bit faster (OK, maybe a lot faster) I could have been another Sally Pearson. One of my closest friends, NSW Swifts co-captain Kimberlee Green, actually had a realistic chance of competing in the 100m hurdles at the Olympics.
She competed against Pearson in the World Youth Games, but again the ‘C’ word stepped in and Kim had to choose between netball and athletics.
Which gets me thinking: Which netballers could have made it to the Olympics?
(Regard the following information as part of my active imagination … until proven otherwise.)
There are no better examples than my Adelaide Thunderbirds teammates.
My goal-shooting partner Carla Borrego would no doubt have represented her country, Jamaica, in basketball. And if netball was an Olympic sport, she would have been one of the few people who could have done the double.
Bec Bulley is very fond of tennis and even tries to convince us to play at training – using a netball. Whether or not she is any good is still a question, but I know she would have given it a fair crack.
Maddy (Maddog) Proud would have been an ideal candidate for BMX. She is a bit of a tomboy and fearless, so racing down mountains or over huge jumps would not have even raised a sweat.
My dear housemate and teammate Emily Beaton was born to be a gymnast. Despite the fact she has the worst hamstring flexibility in anyone I have met, damn she is handy with makeup, hairspray and glitter.
Renae Hallinan is a self-confessed gym junkie who, since moving to Adelaide, purchased a nifty road bike, so jot her name down for the track cycling team next to the great Anna Meares.
And what about skipper Natalie von Bertouch?
Well, she’s an all-round talent, so she would have excelled at more than one sport.
Nat is super fit and a ball of muscle, so steeplechase or weight lifting could have been a perfect fit. But I feel she has hidden talents somewhere between shooting and synchronized swimming. Trust me.
While a small part of us wish it were we who were competing at the Olympic Games (OK, maybe a big part), in reality we are so proud of our Olympic athletes.
I am counting down the days until the start of the Games and can’t wait to see the Aussies win gold.
Erin Bell is a goaler for the Adelaide Thunderbirds and the 2011 world champion Australian Diamonds
Back to the homepage