Backward Glance: Olympic Games history
  • Wednesday 10 August 2016
As we barrack for the Australian team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this week’s Backward Glance celebrates our sporting nation and those sporting heroes who represent this great country we live in. 

 
The first summer Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896. The Games can trace their roots back to ancient Greece, the birthplace of much western culture. 

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. 

The winter Olympic Games were first held in France in 1924 and Australia has been represented at every winter games since 1952. 

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 in 1956 when crowds lined the Bruce Highway to welcome the Olympic torch relay runners. 

Olympic torch relay runners passed through Eumundi on November 15, 1956, heading south and a civic reception was held in Nambour on that day for the runners and support team.

The Olympic torch was flown by Qantas to Darwin, and then carried by a RAAF plane to Cairns where the relay began on November 2, 1956. 

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 Caboolture, 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 Mayor Don Aldous described Nicklin Way as “a human wave” of well-wishers. 

The modern Olympics of 2016 feature some outstanding Sunshine Coast athletes.

Whether Australia’s athletes cross the line first or not, it is no doubt 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.

Image captions:
Hero image: Olympic Torch and torch-bearers welcomed to Nambour on 15 November 1956.

Carousel image captions:
Image 1: Nambour reception for the Olympic Torch and torch-bearers in Station Square on 15 November 1956.
Image 2: Olympian Jim Achurch competing in the javelin event at the 16th Olympic Games held in Melbourne, 1956.
Image 3: Olympic torch bearer Tom Burns leading the Olympic torch relay team through Nambour, 1956.
Image 4: Arthur Parkyn seated in the middle of Hawaiian lifeguards, ca 1956.