Officially an impressive list

THE days of the Blazer Brigade might well be over.

At past Commonwealth and Olympic Games long- serving officials were rewarded with plum roles in teams. Whilst that still seems to be prevalent with a range of other countries, Australia, at least, appears to have moved on.

Amongst those old boys and girls there were some hard workers and many of them unquestionably played key roles in raising the dollars through raffle tickets and functions to get the teams away. But it is also true that a few may have just been along for the ride.

The 2014 Commonwealth Games team could not present a more dramatically different picture from the past with a stack of former Games champions, other medallists and representatives playing a range of key roles - beginning from the very top down.

The Teams chef-de- mission is marathon champion Steve Moneghetti who brings a professional yet distinctively laconic touch to team leadership. Mona is unapologetically athlete- focused in his decision making and directions - leaving the team across all sports in little doubt of what is expected of them and what in turn they can expect of team management.

It's his second stint at the helm - first taking on the role in New Delhi four years ago, having been Village Mayor for Melbourne in 2006.

Amongst his deputies is nine-times Games swimming gold medallist Petria Thomas. Few have a better concept of what the athletes face. She also plays a special role in managing high profile visitors within the team environment and ensuring they understand the realities of what the team is going through.

Cycling and hockey, in particular, have harnessed the post-retirement of skills of their past champions and turned them into high quality coaches and managers.

In hockey, previous games gold medallists Adam Commens, Jason Duff, Paul Gaudoin, Mark Hickman and Craig Victory are all part of the coaching panels driving our men's and women's teams hopefully to similar success.

Brad McGee has five Games golds in his trophy cabinet and joins fellow podium-toppers Gary West and Gary Sutton within the highly successful cycling sections management unit.

It's a similar story in lawn bowls where past champions Kelvin Kerkow and Rob Dobbins play coaching roles, and in squash with both Rodney Eyles and Sarah Fitz-Gerald on board.

Rhonda Cator had multiple medal successes on the badminton court and now serves as that sports section manager, whilst athletics has welcomed into its team coaching ranks one of the most memorable faces from the Melbourne Commonwealth Games - ballet dancing discus champion Scott Martin and now retired wheelchair-star Louise Sauvage.

And the impressive list goes on with seemingly ageless swimmer Adam Pine finally having hung up the togs and taken to team administration and the colourful Juorik Sarkisian now passing on the know- how that took him to Games weightlifting gold to the next generation.

The return of the champions in team leadership roles unquestionably gives a special feel to the team perhaps even additional credibility.

But most importantly it provides the current competitors with that little something that those who have not been there before, however competent in delivering their roles that they might be, cannot supply.


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