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BACKWARD GLANCE: Olympic Games – Flame of Hope for all Nations

As we barrack for the Australian team at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, this Backward Glance celebrates our sporting nation and the sporting heroes who represent this great country we live in.

Edwin (Teddy) Flack was Australia’s first gold medallist, winning the 1500m and 800m at the 1896 Athens Games.

Australia has competed at every summer Olympic Games since then and has hosted two summer games – Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000 and now has the won the hosting rights for Brisbane and South East Queensland in 2032.

Did you know one of our early Yandina pioneers who came to Australia in 1915 was Otto Raisanen, a champion wrestler who represented Finland as a young man aged 16?  He competed at two Olympic Games for Finland before migrating to Australia.

Excitement came to the Sunshine Coast region on November 15, 1956 when crowds lined the Bruce Highway to welcome the Olympic torch relay runners. 

Olympic torch relay runners passed through Eumundi on that day, heading south and a civic reception was held in Nambour afterwards for the runners and support team.

A total of 3118 runners covered a distance of 4912 kilometres, taking 21 days to arrive in Melbourne – the longest relay in Olympic history at the time.

Sunshine Coast’s own Arthur Parkyn was the head coach for the Hawaiian lifeguard team who participated in the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956.

Forty-four years later, there were Olympic celebrations at Caloundra, Maroochy and Noosa for the Sydney 2000 torch relay with thousands cheering on our past athletes and the torch runners despite wet weather.

The Sunshine Coast turned out for the experience of a lifetime when the Olympic torch came taking less than three days to pass through the region.

There was a special night of celebrations at Kawana Sports Complex, thousands came to Nambour Showgrounds to see the spectacle and more than 10,000 crammed into Tewantin’s Read Park for a cauldron ceremony.

Caloundra City Council Mayor Don Aldous described Nicklin Way as “a human wave” of well-wishers.

Whether Australia’s athletes cross the line first or not, it is a huge honour to wear the Australian colours and represent your country.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.

Olympic Welcome Dinner, Nambour, 1984. Australia competed at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Pictured: Don Culley (centre) the then Chairman of Maroochy Shire Council with sports competitors including Grant Kenny.
Olympic Torch and torch-bearers welcomed to Nambour on 15 November 1956.
Nambour reception for the Olympic Torch and torch-bearers in Station Square on 15 November 1956.
Olympian Jim Achurch competing in the javelin event at the 16th Olympic Games held in Melbourne, 1956.
Olympic torch bearer Tom Burns leading the Olympic torch relay team through Nambour, 1956.
Fred Clark, member of the Maroochy Olympic torch relay team at Eumundi, 15 November 1956.
Fred Clark proudly holding the Olympic Torch at Eumundi, 15 November 1956.
Maroochy Olympic Torch Relay Team, 1956.
Maroochy Olympic Torch Relay Team members on the dais in Station Square, Nambour, 15 November 1956.
Arthur Parkyn seated in the middle of Hawaiian lifeguards, ca 1956.

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