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Vikelas Plaque awarded to Australian Olympic Historians

5 December 2013

AOC: Some of the most knowledgable Olympic heads in the world have come together at the Australian Olympic Committee headquarters in Sydney to make a special presentation to two outstanding Australians.

Sports historians Richard Cashman and Ian Jobling were today awarded the Vikelas Plaque by the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH). David Wallechinsky, ISOH President and Tony Bijerk, ISOH Secretary-General made the presentation at an event hosted by AOC President John Coates.

“For us, for whom Olympic history is also very important and something we try and instill in all of our Olympic Teams, it is a very great privilege to have you with us today,” Coates said.

Named after the International Olympic Committee’s President at the time of the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens- Greek Dmitrios Vikelas, the award congratulated the two Australians for their separate contributions to Olympic research.

Enigmatic ISOH President Wallechinsky gave the two Australians glowing overtures. He also let slip that “the Sydney Olympic Games were the best,” much to the delight of the gathered Olympic family members and Australian Olympic Committee staff.

Cashman has published some 40 books in a career that revolves around the history of sports in Australia. He founded the Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 1996 before becoming the founding director of the Australian Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) in 2005- a position he will hold until December 31st.

Cashman has also helped promote discussion on sports history teaching within the Australian Society for Sports History.

“I was a bit astounded to get a letter from Tony Bijkerk saying that I was getting this award,” Cashman admitted.

“It’s something that I was quite surprised about because I’ve enjoyed immensely my work on sports history topics and that has always, to me, been an end to itself.”

Cashman acknowledged several other Australian Olympic historians in a room that included Robin Poke, Bruce Coe, Harry Gordon and David Clark.

“I think the award is very nice in the sense that it honours a whole lot of Australian writers... I’m happy to receive this award on behalf of a whole lot of other people,” he said.

Upon introducing Dr Jobling, Wallechinsky explained: “Frankly, from our point of view, as Olympic historians, what we really like is that Ian Jobling is the only person in the history of our organisation to win the award for best article of the year twice!”

Dr Jobling is the Director of the Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Queensland (UQ). He was also an Associate Professor in the School of Human Movement Studies at UQ for 27 years before retiring from this role in 2005. Dr Jobling was a founding member and former President of the Australian Society for Sports History (ASSH).

“I’ve been given the privilege of working with young athletes,” Dr Jobling said.

“I am so pleased that young Olympic athletes, especially, seem to be able to grasp what the Olympic movement is all about.”

His key research projects have focused on the social-cultural aspects of sport and included topics such as: The impact of female Olympians on Australian society; Olympic swimmers and Australian society (1900-1924); Australian IOC members and Australia at the 1956 Olympic Games: A Socio-historical analysis.

Jobling won the aforementioned ISOH award for the best article on Olympic history in 2006 and 2007.

Taya Conomos
olympics.com.au