Australians are passionate about their sport. It is part
of the Australian character. Be it on a sporting field or
in a woolshed shearing sheep, whenever two or more Australians
get together, the sporting spirit comes alive and competition
ensues. And no matter what colour, creed, race or country
of origin, when a group of Australians team up on the same
side, they are truly united. Sport reaches beyond blind patriotism,
and unites one of the most culturally diverse populations
in the world. This, above all else, is what makes an Australian
Australian sportsmen and women have excelled in virtually
every international sport, both at home and in the international
arena. An ardent supporter of the Olympic movement, Australia
is one of just five countries in the world, (along with Greece,
Great Britain, France and Switzerland), to have been represented
at every summer Olympic Games held since Baron de Coubertin
revived the Olympic Games in 1896. Since the inaugural event
in Athens, where Australian runner Edwin Flack won two gold
medals the 800m and the 1,500m, Australians have won a total
of 225 Olympic medals in a wide range of sports.
It is therefore particularly appropriate that Sydney was
selected to host the Olympic Games in the year 2000, when
in celebration of the beginning of a new millennium, the world's
finest sportsmen and women will converge on Sydney to compete.
Being awarded the honour of hosting the 2000 Olympic Games
was more than a victory over other contenders. In Sydney and
around the nation, tens of thousands of people gathered in
the early hours of the morning of 24 September 1993 to await
the verdict of the International Olympic Committee. Joy and
excitement swept over the entire country, from the cities
to the outback, in scenes reminiscent of the bicentenary celebrations
in 1988. The stock market rose, the currency strengthened,
and for a while the tough times were cast aside. It was almost
as if the Olympics would be a magic wand, to boost the economy
and generate some much needed confidence to take the nation
out of recession.
Not surprisingly, many important sporting innovations have
been spawned in Australia over the years. Many involved the
development of new techniques. In swimming, for example, the
overarm sidestroke, the Australian crawl (which became known
as freestyle), and the butterfly were developed in Australia.
The crouched start in athletics was conceived by Australian
sprinter Bobby McDonald in 1884, prior to which runners started
a race standing upright.
While the human body has yet to reach its limits, natural
talent and true grit are no longer enough. It is science and
technology that will keep sports records tumbling in the future.
And while innovation in sport has largely resulted from the
individual and team endeavours of competitors, there have
also been a number of technological innovations in sport.
One example is race cam, the tiny cameras used universally
in action sport broadcasting, that have changed and enhanced
the way sport is watched by millions of people around the
world. Other innovations have included the development of
high performance sports equipment, safer crash barriers and
the advent of custom made prescription mouthguards.
And if sport is an integral part of the Australian lifestyle,
the pursuit of leisure is its code of life. In the so called
'lucky country', most people work to live, not live to work.
Leisure, camaraderie and recreation are the primary qualitative
measures of individual success the acquisition of financial
wealth for most being a means to an end, rather than a achievement
in itself. It is interesting to note that there are more barbecues,
swimming pools and boats per head of population in Australia,
than anywhere else in the world. Leisure in Australia starts
with the ubiquitous barbecue get together, and extends through
to the wide appreciation and participation in the arts in
its many forms. There exists a proliferation of talent in
cinematography, acting, opera, ballet, theatre, music, painting
and sculpture. And besides participation in sports, hobbies
and outdoor leisure activities range from DIY home improvements
and gardening, to home crafts like wood working.
Australia's contributions to innovation in sport and leisure
are far too many to be all mentioned here. We have therefore
selected a number of world first and world best products and
technologies of international significance, over a range of
sport and leisure activities, in an endeavour to illustrate
the wide diversity of products and technologies the nation
has to offer.
Due to an unresolved dispute
with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade),
who copied and adopted as their own certain material from
Tomorrow's World, the Australian Initiative, and published
the material in their Australia Open for Business website,
without remorse or recompense, access
by Australian Government servers to this online edition
has been blocked indefinitely.