Olympic Gold book launched15 June 2012
An Olympic book 16 years in the making was launched this morning by Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates.
The book, Olympic Gold, was initiated by 1964 Olympic butterfly champion Kevin Berry, a passionate Olympian for whom the Olympic movement meant everything.
While a media liaison officer with the Australian team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Berry set out to develop a book containing a chapter on each of what were then Australia’s 50 individual Olympic gold medallists. Courtesy of a publisher, he commissioned the necessary chapters from his many associates within Australian sport.
Berry’s Olympic passion got the better of him, however, and he had to put the book aside as he committed himself to playing his part in ensuring the success of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The onset of ill health just before the Games then prevented him from returning to the book—but help was at hand.
Fellow media officers Ian Heads and Robin Poke, convinced of the worthiness of the project put in place measures following the Athens Olympics that ensured it would be completed.
“It was the least we could do,” co-editor Poke said at today’s launch. “It was, after all, to have been Kevin’s legacy to a movement about which he cared so much. I am just so pleased the project has at last reached fruition.”
"Sadly, though, Berry did not live to see its completion. He died in December 2006. The book was eventually completed late last year.
In attendance at today’s event was Berry’s wife Libby Thomas, who travelled to Sydney from the Sunshine Coast especially for the launch.
“This is the book Kevin dreamt of for so long,” she said. “I can’t think of a nicer tribute. His passion was the Olympics and total concern to preserve all they stood for.”
Also at the launch was Jodi Rose, widow of the late Murray Rose, who died in April, aged 71.
Rose and Kevin Berry were not only team-mates but great friends, and when he learned that Berry’s project would be completed, Rose’s assistance was unstinting.
It is for that reason that today’s venue, the Woollahra Council Chambers was chosen. It overlooks the Redleaf Pool in which Rose first swam.
In launching the book, Coates described its development and completion as “an Olympian effort”.
“A great deal of time and effort—indeed passion—has gone into this book. It has truly been a task of Olympian proportions. I commend those involved and welcome this outstanding addition to the catalogue of Australia’s Olympic literature”.
Olympic Gold documents in detail every individual Olympic gold medal won by Australia, from the dual gold wins by the give-it-a-go, utterly amateur track athlete Edwin Flack at the first of the modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 to the high-flying, high-tech and totally professional aerial skiing exploits of Lydia Lassila at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. Each chapter provides unique insights into the myriad trials, tribulations and triumphs inherent in working towards and then becoming an Olympic champion, while also capturing the high drama and extraordinary theatre that is an Olympic final.
are available from all good booksellers. Booktopia currently have it for $34.99
as a special online price: http://www.booktopia.com.au/olympic-gold/prod9781741969856.html