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Royal treatment for Aussie Olympians

28 July 2012

TEAM: The start of the men’s road cycling race provided the perfect backdrop as Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall met some of Australia’s 2012 Olympians.

With five sensational Australian cyclists on the start line ready for a showdown with the Brits, open water swimmers Ky Hurst and Melissa Gorman joined debutants Blake Gaudry (trampoline) and Elisa Barnard (archery) in the stands. But they were far from regular spectators on a sunny London morning- they were here in the green and gold for a once in a lifetime meeting.

The crowd roared to life when they spotted the royals among the huge British and Olympic flags lining The Mall heading towards the Aussies to introduce themselves.

“We live so far away so to have that opportunity to come to the Olympics, to be in London, and to meet the royal family is amazing. I don’t think that will happen ever again in my lifetime,” Hurst said.

Hurst is an ironman and embarking on his second Olympic campaign, but was still star-struck by the occasion.

“As far as the celebrity status goes, they’re probably some of the highest ranked that I’ve met,” said the man who also met Usain Bolt at the Beijing Olympic Games.

“I had a photo with Kobe Bryant the other day and a few of the Dream Team. I don’t think it gets much better than that as far as sport goes… I’ve met some pretty famous people but you know what, they’re all human at the end of the day- they just do special things.”

Hurst and Gorman are hoping to produce something special when their open water competition begins. Gorman even suggested the royals come along to cheer her on.

“I told them they should get out to watch our open water swimming races in Hyde Park on the 9th and 10th of August and even Prince Charles told us to gargle a bit of antiseptic before we dive out into the Serpentine,” Gorman recalled with a laugh.

Trapoline gymnast Gaudry was excited to tell the news to his folks back home.

“The whole family is going to be so jealous,” said Gaudry, who was also lucky enough to meet radio and TV stars Hamish and Andy this week.

“It’s crazy! You always hear these stories about the Olympic Games and that it’s going to be so amazing. But I think what we’ve done in the past few days has just been incredible.”

When asked which meeting was more  of a highlight, Gaudry had to pinch himself to believe that all this had happened.

“They’re different experiences and they’re both really up there. I’m a big fan of Hamish and Andy and I’ve loved them for ages, but the royals are on a whole other level. The whole experience and aura about them is amazing.”

Fellow first-time Olympian Barnard echoed his sentiments.

“It’s a whole other level to what we were expecting,” Barnard said. 

“When they asked me yesterday and said that I’d been selected to see them (the royals) my jaw dropped to the ground and I said why me? I’m just little old me from Sydney! This whole week and everything that’s going to come is just so cool!

The Olympic arena can be a distraction for athletes, but Barnard and the Aussies are keeping their cool.

“When I’m standing on that line I could be shooting anywhere in the world… Once you’re on the line it’s just the same old drill: it’s just you, your arrow, the target and nothing else matters so I can focus on that moment easily.”

Taya Conomos

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