This is an archive copy of a document originally located at
With Amanda Smith
Amateurism in Sport
This week, a fresh look at AMATEURISM, and what brought about its
decline in elite sport.
According to LINCOLN ALLISON, the author of "Amateurism In Sport", the fanatical
application of amateurism as meaning ‘entirely unpaid’ hastened its decline. But
the moral and philosophical meaning of amateurism remains fundamental to our
definition of sport, and must still apply to professional sport, if it is to
survive into the 21st century.
And we’ll meet a true amateur. WILL ALSTERGREN is the captain of the Australian
Bobsleigh Team. Inspired by the film “Cool Runnings” - about the Jamaican
bobsleigh team - Will and the other Aussie Bobs can’t train on the ice in
Australia, since there are no bobsleigh tracks in the southern hemisphere.
Details or Transcript:
Amanda Smith: This morning on The Sports Factor, a look back at what’s now
understood to be the most profound change in sport: the shift from amateurism to
Amanda Smith: And we’ll also meet a bunch of rank amateurs, and proudly so. The
Australian Bobsleigh Team, who took up the sport after watching it on the telly
at the last Winter Olympics.
CHEERS…Go! Go! Go! Now! Now! Now!/GRINDING OF BOBSLEIGH On ICE
Will Alstergren: I literally watched the bobsledding at Nagano on television and
I heard most of the teams, not of them, were retiring. A friend of mine, Paul
Hayes and I, literally rang up the Australian National Bobsleigh Association and
a fellow called John McDonald I think, was quite amazed to get our call from
Melbourne, and he’s in Adelaide, and he said ‘Look, if you keep on training, you
can give it a go.’
Amanda Smith: Had you done it before?
Will Alstergren: No, I’d never seen it on site before. It’s the most
ridiculously hard training program, it just about killed us. We ended up going
over to Canada in November of 1998, and our coach, who’s Romanian, said to us,
‘Here’s the bobsled, you get in the front, you get in the back,’ and I got in
the front and I said, ‘How do I steer?’ And he said, ‘You’ll find out as you go
down’. And with that, it started off the most terrifying 55 seconds of my life,
but it was fantastic.
Amanda Smith: And more from the Aussie Bobs later in the program.
Well these days, we’re so used to athletes being career professionals, that it’s
easy to forget how bitter the struggle was in many sports to retain the amateur
code, and how dirty a word ‘professional’ was. Avery Brundidge for example, when
he was President of the International Olympic Committee, from 1952 to 1972, used
to call professional athletes ‘performing monkeys’.
Well, the arguments for retaining sport as the domain of the unpaid amateur,
have truly been fought and lost as the market now dictates whether and how much,
sportspeople get paid.
Lincoln Allison: I think the issue as people understand it, which is mainly
about payment, and commercialism, is long dead and buried. But it’s a little bit
like however few people go to church, you can’t really understand current
society without understanding religion. And in that sense, I’m saying you can’t
understand sport without understanding amateurism.
Amanda Smith: That’s Lincoln Allison, the author of a new book called
‘Amateurism in Sport’. And he argues that the definition of the sports amateur
being someone who receives no payment is only one dimension to the amateur
ideal. But it’s the one that brought about its demise.
Now of course various sports professionalised at various times, some quite
early, like soccer in the United Kingdom in 1885. Rugby League was established
as a professional sport in the UK in 1895, and in Australia in 1907. Other
sports retained amateurism and sometimes ‘shamateurism’ a lot longer. Tennis,
until 1968; Rugby Union right up until 1995. And both the International
Athletics and Swimming Federations only dropped the word ‘amateur’ from their
titles last year.
Well, aside from the issues to do with payment, one of the major criticisms of
amateurism, which tainted it, was that it could be very exclusive. Rowing, for
example, in England and Australia in the 19th century, wasn’t open to manual
Lincoln Allison: There was a very specific attempt to exclude the working class.
I mean one dimension of the definition of amateurism was that it was actually at
its strongest in rowing, was simply that ‘an amateur is a gentleman’. It was a
class definition without any qualms or attempt at secrecy whatsoever. But I
think that’s the thing that a lot of people have latched on, but actually I
think it’s quite superficial, that the idea that people should play sport with a
moral code, and essentially as an end in itself, is as many people saw,
something that isn’t exclusive to one class, and if society is to survive and
prosper, must be spread to the whole of society.
Amanda Smith: So has the word ‘amateur’ always implied and contained a moral
dimension to it?
Lincoln Allison: Yes. Originally it did, and I think the way in which we talk
about amateurism and maybe bemoan its loss or say that its loss was inevitable,
yes, it does. I think in the middle, in the way that it was dealt with by the
Olympic movement and by the Rugby Union, it lost that, because it became so
technically involved with the question of money, that an amateur was somebody
who did not make money. Which of course is not the original definition, and not
the etymological definition, which is much more philosophical, it’s about doing
things for the love of them, literally, or you might say as an end in
themselves, which is a far more interesting notion, than doing them without
Amanda Smith: Etymologically it’s from the Latin ‘amare’, ‘to love’.
Lincoln Allison: Absolutely, yes. Although paradoxically, modern Italian uses
normally the word for ‘amateur’ ‘dilettante’, which of course we mean to use
somebody who takes things very lightly indeed, perhaps, much more likely an
amateur, from the Italian word ‘delight’, whereas it’s the French really who
created the word ‘amateur’.
Amanda Smith: Well what would you say is the amateur attitude to winning,
Lincoln Allison: I’d like to scotch a myth about this. The myth is that the
correct amateur ideal here is it doesn’t matter who wins, it’s the taking part
that counts. That it seems to me was never the case. Everybody in the Olympic
movement, if they were competing, wanted to win, and the only person who ever
said that thing about taking part, was not even Pierre de Coubertain, it was
actually the Bishop of Philadelphia at a sermon before the 1908 Olympics.
Amateurs want to win at least as much as professionals do. When you watch
professional sportsmen, they’re getting a wage, they play lots of games, it’s
routine. Fans of football I think and cricket as well in England, are absolutely
convinced that there is a certain lack of will to win among professionals, that
was quite different among amateurs. The difference is off the field, it’s what
you’ll do to win off the field, whether you will recruit, whether you will take
drugs, whether you’ll change the nature of your club and break friendships in
order to get the best players to win. I don’t think the difference is on the
field ever. The difference is what you do off the field.
Amanda Smith: Yes, well why do you think amateurism persisted for as long as it
did in sport? I mean it really didn’t start to decline until the 1950s, 1960s.
Lincoln Allison: Yes. I think it’s a bit of a miracle in some ways. You take
what happened in the UK about television. A whole range of people wanted to
absolutely ring-fence the influence of television on sport. And the interesting
thing is football, which of course had been a professional sport since 1885, and
in many ways you’d have expected people in football to think commercially, to do
exactly what the Americans did in major league sport: see this as a huge
opportunity for expanding the financial scale of the enterprise. In fact they
did exactly the opposite. They said football can be on television once a year,
and the Chairman of the Football League in the 1960s, Bob Lord, was actually
opposed to even the Cup Final being on television. You must go and watch it
live, that is a participant, community kind of thing, to paraphrase his
arguments. We do not want to create a nation of couch potatoes. So here’s a very
commercial figure, a figure brought up in business, determined in the sporting
field, to ignore the obvious commercial opportunity of how much money can be
made out of television. And it’s only under the influence of your compatriots,
Messrs Packer and Murdoch that British football ever came to be on live
television at all, and only at the end of the 1980s. So I think that’s the
remarkable thing; people were so worried about sporting values being influenced
by commerce that they treated television as if it were the work of the Devil.
Amanda Smith: But were there problems and tensions inherent in amateurism that
made its decline inevitable?
Lincoln Allison: I’m reluctant to talk about inevitability, but I think in the
way that Avery Brundidge in the Olympic movement, or people in the Rugby
Football Union treated amateurism, which was a fanatical concern, frankly, with
avoiding any kind of monetary reward, I think that system was so risible that it
was doomed to die. They felt that any payment was wrong, tainted you, the image
of 19th century professionalism, not so very far from our own era of course, was
of people throwing games, of gambling, corruption, that professionalism was
inevitably the thin end of the wedge to the kind of seamy sport that existed in
Britain in the 18th century and the early 19th century, predominantly cricket,
pugilism and horse racing, which was entirely corrupt.
Amanda Smith: Lincoln Allison, the author of the book, ‘Amateurism in Sport’,
speaking to me from the United Kingdom.
Now, because of the very strict application of the meaning of ‘amateur’ in
various sports, many athletes suffered indignities and lost opportunities to
compete, for what seem to us now, as unbelievably trivial transgressions. Like
Dawn Fraser, a promising 12-year-old swimmer in 1949.
Dawn Fraser: Well, we used to belong to a football club, the whole family, and
every Christmas they used to have a Christmas party and a picnic at a place
called Hollywood Picnic Grounds in North Ryde, in Sydney. And there’d be 80, 90,
or 100 kids that would go with their families to the Christmas Picnic. And each
year we used to get something from the football club, and this particular year
we got 2/- each, as a present. But we did compete in sack races, running races,
egg-and-spoon races, swimming races, whatever. And I was classed by the
Australian Swimming Union as a professional at 12 years of age, for taking 2/-.
And I said, Look, it was only a Christmas gift, but the fact is because the
amateur status was so stringent in those days they said No, that I had swum, I
had received 2/- and I had to stand down for two years. So I sort of gave up
swimming and stuff like that; I wasn’t allowed to swim in races, I wasn’t
allowed to swim in a swimming pool where kids were from that club, and that’s
pretty horrific at 12 years of age, to learn that.
And I guess that was my first big battle with officialdom. We tried to fight the
case. It was about 14 months later that Colin Macintosh sought me out and said,
‘You know, I’ve got you reinstated.’ And I had to think twice whether I wanted
to come back into this sport of swimming, with all these officials that had
banned me for 12 months.
Amanda Smith: Dawn Fraser. And in 1947, an athletic young chap called Don Chipp,
later the founder of the Australian Democrats, played three senior matches with
the Fitzroy Football Club. The result? Another battle with officialdom.
Don Chipp: Well like every young man, the greatest thrill of all in sport is to
represent your country, and I found I could run pretty quickly, in fact I did
100 yards at one stage in about 9.4. Hec Hogan, the then Australian champion,
was running 9.3, 9.2, so I thought well I might be in with a show. So I decided
to register to run amateur with the 4As, the Australian Amateur Athletic
Association, and they said, ‘Oh Mr Chipp’, when they got me in for an interview,
‘but you’re a professional footballer.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not, I’ve played for
Fitzroy and the Victorian Football League, I’ve had a few games with the Firsts,
but I don’t take any money, I played as an amateur for the very purpose of
retaining an amateur status so I could run as an amateur for my country.’ ‘Oh
no,’ they said, ‘if you haven’t taken money, you’ve taken football knickers and
football socks and football jumper.’ I said, ‘Well of course I have, you don’t
expect me to run out there stark naked, of course I have. What a silly
question.’ Then they said, ‘Well, we’ll think about it. You fill in this form in
quadruplicate, wait six months, and we’ll consider restoring your lilywhite
status to you.’ Well being a callow youth, early 20s, I told them what they
could do with my amateur status, which was namely to shove it up my football
jumper, and I ran professional and never ever regretted it.
Amanda Smith: And Australia lost an Olympic athlete, but gained a politician.
Don Chipp0, former Federal Parliamentarian and founding leader of the Australian
Into the 1950s and ‘60s, turning professional was particularly contentious in
sports like tennis, where giving up your amateur status and playing for money
was often seen as a kind of public betrayal. The year after they won the Davis
Cup for Australia in 1952, Frank Sedgman and Ken McGregor headed overseas to
play as professionals. Frank Sedgman remembers the kind of reaction he got back
in Australia when he tried to participate in another sport, a friendly game of
Frank Sedgman: We did find that when we came back there was quite a bit of
resentment towards us. I went to play golf one time at Royal Sydney with a
Member of Parliament from here, Jack Galbally, and he invited me out to play
golf with him, and I got out there and he comes out and he says, ‘Oh, I’m sorry,
Frank, you know, you’re professional, they won’t allow you to play golf.’ He
says, ‘My driver’s here, he’ll take you back to the city.’ And I said, ‘Oh well,
thanks very much.’
Amanda Smith: Former Australian tennis champ, Frank Sedgman.
Well by the 1960s the tide had really started to turn on amateurism. But Lincoln
Allison believes that the amateur code would have survived in many sports if a
less fanatical, more nuanced approach to its principles had been applied.
Lincoln Allison: Sportsmen and sportswomen, particularly the tennis in the
1960s, where the best players were absent from the Grand Slam tournaments and so
on, it was a very unfortunate situation. And I think had there been some attempt
to imitate what had gone on in football and cricket in England in the 19th
century to say, ‘Yes, you can be a professional but we’re going to kind of
ring-fence the effects of commercialism within the sport’. Rugby Union’s the
interesting case. I can’t speak for Australian Rugby Union, which seems to me to
be much better organised in several respects, but Rugby Union in England
particularly, is going through a devastating kind of period, despite the fact we
have a very successful national side in which the number of players is
declining, clubs are struggling because we’ve gone straight into a kind of Big
Bang approach to professionalism.
Now the thing that people – Will Carling, the former England Captain comes to
mind – were proposing the latter days of amateurism, was not that you should
simply abolish the distinction, allow anybody to pay anybody as much as they
wanted, which in terms of the history of sport was clearly going to cause all
kinds of horrendous problems, and has, it was much more saying, ‘Look, you can
earn money from this, you can earn money from that, you can make a living as a
rugby player, but only in the following ways, and we encourage everybody also to
have another career.’ Because of course people were bound because they’d written
an autobiography, they were bound because they’d written a newspaper article,
the simple thing about money was imposed so fanatically, and other aspects of
amateurism got completely forgotten, that I think in the end there could have
been more interesting compromises, a more nuanced version, rather than this
fanatical thing which just concerned itself with money.
Amanda Smith: Well in ditching the idea of amateurism in sport, what have we
lost, in your view? Is there some sense of amateurism that is still fundamental
to a definition of sport?
Lincoln Allison: Yes, I think there is. I think there’s a very strong overlap.
If you say as kind of neo-libertarians often say, that sport is an
entertainment, and that’s all there is to it, so that it succeeds or fails on a
market, and it has no moral content at all, so we shouldn’t support it
particularly with sports councils, and have a particular State vision of what
sport should be and what we should encourage, if you take that view, I think
you’re not really talking about sport, you’re talking about professional
wrestling or some other kind of entertainment. But then you’d have to add, ‘Well
sport’s not unique in that way.’ We talk about the arts in the same way, we
expect them not to be mere entertainment, but to have some sort of spiritual
value, some kind of intellectually challenging content, to be about something
other than entertainment in the way that soap opera is about entertainment.
Amanda Smith: Well amid all the changes and erosions, Lincoln, can this moral
aspect of the amateur ideal be sustained in professionalised sport?
Lincoln Allison: I don’t know. You get some very conflicting messages. I mean a
very recent story is Mike Tyson being allowed to fight in Washington on June
8th, where even the Nevada Boxing Board of Control have decided that he was too
much, as it were, to stomach morally. On the other hand, I’ve noticed in English
professional football, I mean there was a remarkable incident last year where a
very feisty competitive Italian footballer, playing for West Ham in the Premier
League in England, Paolo Di Canio, caught the ball rather than score a goal,
because an opposition player was injured. Now the applause he got for that, it
was as if people were bursting to see somebody do something like that. And I
think nobody denies that as it happens Paolo Di Canio is one of the most feisty,
aggressive, determined players in Europe, I would say, but he thought it right
to do that. He got all sorts of awards for it, incidentally. It was very
interesting and people’s reaction to it was also very interesting.
Amanda Smith: Yes, why do we love that so much? Why do we love seeing those
cases of sportsmanship?
Lincoln Allison: I think because the nightmare of Mike Tyson, and to some
degree, major league sport in America, is one in which people glare at each
other, they show aggression even off the field and so on, and in which this is
gladiatorialism is the obvious image of this, it’s a fight to the death, it
contains no moral reservations, no sense of decency, no aspiration to
friendship. Larry Holmes who was a boxer, who still in a sense was influenced
perhaps by the amateur ethos, said he was used, even in World Heavyweight title
fights, to talking to his opponent afterwards and saying, ‘Sorry I caught you
that one. I hope it didn’t hurt too much, but it’s all go in the ring’, and so
on. And he said he tried to do that to Mike Tyson in 1988 and Tyson looked at
him and said, ‘I hate your (something) guts’. Which I honestly don’t think as
entertainment, that is ultimately particularly attractive. The idea of people
playing very, very hard on the field, but within a code of ethics, and coming
off and being capable of being friends is a much more attractive idea.
Amanda Smith: Lincoln Allison, who’s the author of ‘Amateurism in Sport’, and
also Director of the Centre for the Study of Sport at the University of Warwick
in the United Kingdom.
Now if you’ve been watching any of the bobsleigh competition this week at the
Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, you might have been reminded of that film,
‘Cool Runnings’ that’s about the Jamaican bobsled team.
Man 1: That’s a bobsled.
Man 2: Oh, so a bobsled is a pushcart with no wheels.
Man 1: That’s what it looks like here.
Man 2: Let me see that. All right. The key elements for a successful sled team
are a steady driver and three strong runners to push off down the ice. Ice?
Amanda Smith: Now the premise of this film, about how incongruous it seems for a
bunch of blokes from the tropical Caribbean to compete in an ice sport, is more
than just a little bit similar to the story of the current Australian bobsleigh
team. Except that these ‘Aussie Bobs’ as they’re known, haven’t quite made it
yet to the Winter Olympics. Will Alstergren is the Captain of the team.
Will Alstergren: Well we actually qualified according to the IOC criteria and we
beat, we actually accumulated points through World Cup and Europa Cup races, and
we actually doubled the criteria. We also beat half the teams currently in Salt
Lake City, but unfortunately we couldn’t meet the very high standard of the AOC,
the Australian Olympic Committee.
Amanda Smith: Why are the Australian standards so rigorous?
Will Alstergren: I think Australia’s one of those countries which demands
excellence from its athletes, and that’s something to be admired in many ways,
but unfortunately what happens is if you have a test across the board that
doesn’t take into account the demands of each sport, sometimes, unfortunately
like us for instance, amateurs, it makes it virtually impossible for us to
qualify. For instance, some of the teams that compete in World Cup are fully
funded couldn’t have satisfied the AOC criteria.
Amanda Smith: So you must be a bit disappointed.
Will Alstergren: Well look, I am. We’ve put enormous amount into it, it is
disappointing, particularly when we see half the teams that are actually at the
Olympics we’ve actually beaten. But I don’t mean to criticise the AOC, they’ve
got their own decisions to make and it’s very difficult for them to try and make
Amanda Smith: Well how did you get into bobsleigh competition, Will? You weren’t
inspired by the Jamaicans in that film, ‘Cool Runnings’, were you?
Will Alstergren: Well it’s a pretty motivational film, to be honest.
Interestingly about the Jamaicans, they literally started off as a bit of a
joke. They ended up beating the Americans at Lillehammer, in only their second
Winter Olympics. I suppose from our point of view, I literally watched the
bob-sledding at Nagano on television, and I heard most of the team, if not all
of them, were retiring. A friend of mine, Paul Hayes, rang up the Australian
National Bobsled Association and a fellow called John McDonald, I think, was
quite amazed to get our call from Melbourne. He’s in Adelaide, and he said,
‘Look, if you keep on training you can give it a go.’
Amanda Smith: Had you done it before?
Will Alstergren: No. I’d never seen it on site before. It started off with the
most ridiculously hard training program, it just about killed us. We ended up
going over to Canada in November of 1998 and our coach, who’s Romanian, said to
us, ‘Here’s the bobsled. You get in the front, you get in the back’. I got in
the front and I said, ‘How do I steer?’ He said, ‘You’ll find out as you go
down.’ And with that, it started off the most terrifying 55 seconds of my life,
but it was fantastic.
Amanda Smith: Well it sounds like an amateur pursuit in the absolute genuine
sense of the word.
Will Alstergren: Absolutely. It’s all been amateur for us, but at the same time
we’ve done as best as we can; as we’ve learnt about the sport. We’ve actually
got more and more professional about it, but it’s a classic story of a couple of
amateurs wanting to take it on, and we can’t train in Australia.
Amanda Smith: How do you train in Australia, because as I understand it, there
isn’t a single bobsleigh track anywhere in the country.
Will Alstergren: There’s none in the Southern Hemisphere. The closest is Japan.
They cost about $45-million to build, you know you can have tracks in areas
which are not too cold, but of course they’re like big concrete fridges, and if
the weather’s too hot of course, we can’t use them. But to answer your question,
we can’t train on the ice, but we have a push facility at the Docklands, which
you may have heard about.
Amanda Smith: This is in Melbourne.
Will Alstergren: In Melbourne, sorry. There’s a property developer called Andrew
Buxton that heard about our plight and said, ‘Look, I’ve got an old warehouse,
I’ve got a lease down at the Docklands’, and the Docklands facility agreed, and
they let us construct a 90-metre push track at the Docklands.
Amanda Smith: So what is that, what’s a push track?
Will Alstergren: What a push track is, is it’s basically putting a bobsled on
rails, a bit like tram rails and on wheels, and you push it from a standing
start to as fast as you can go in 50-metres, simulating what you might do on
ice. We’ve got a conveyor belt rubber, and put that down, so it’s bit like
running on ice, and now we imported two old bobsleds from Canada that have seen
better days. That was our training schedule. We built it in May and it’s made a
huge difference, and I think it’ll provide the focus for our training in the
Amanda Smith: Will how do you reckon you would have gone against teams like the
Germans, Austrians and Swiss in Salt Lake City? I mean after all, we have seen
some extraordinary results from Australians at these Winter Games; can something
like what happened to Steven Bradbury in the speed skating happen in bobsleigh?
Will Alstergren: It’s a bit harder to crash in bobsleigh, although we’ve all
tried. Steven Bradbury is a great example of Australian spirit, and I admire him
greatly. Unfortunately in bobsleigh it wouldn’t quite happen like that. There’s
over 30 competitors, so there’s a lot of crashes if you can get down the course.
It’s more of an equipment-based sport too. I mean people spend an enormous
amount of money. For instance the Germans and the Swiss spend over DM1-million
or $1-million on their sleds almost every hear.
Amanda Smith: Yes, it’s a bit like Formula I motor racing really, on ice.
Will Alstergren: That’s exactly what it’s called. And it’s extraordinary. I mean
you’ve got companies in Germany and in France and of course in Switzerland, that
spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on bobsleds. We hire them. So
it’s a bit different. So I suppose if you’re realistic, with our national
program, with our fully funded program, we’re not a Top Five contender, however
occasionally opportunities arise where you can do very, very well, and I think
if we got lucky, we could have come at least in the Top 20, which is fantastic
out of 38 sleds. Considering that most of the countries, if not all of them in
the Top 20 are all professionals.
Amanda Smith: Well watching the Germans and the Swiss, indeed the Jamaicans and
Mexicans competing this week in the bobsleigh at Salt Lake City, it’s a bit hard
to tell from watching it what’s actually going on, and what’s going on inside
the sleigh. So Will, take us through a race, from the start.
Will Alstergren: You’re sitting firstly in what they call a warm-up box up the
top, you’ve got people around you who are doing various things. The Americans
are probably crashing into walls and yelling and screaming and trying to gee
themselves up. Other athletes are sort of being very quiet, and the Germans are
just being very, very serious. The brake-men will be really hyping themselves up
to run as fast as they possibly can off the top of the block, and the drivers
will be trying to concentrate on each corner they have to drive down and try to
memorise it in their mind.
Basically what happens is you try and get that feeling of explosiveness, it’s a
Man: One, two, three! (CHEERS)
Will Alstergren: If it’s four-man, for instance, as you take off, I’ll run about
10 to 15 metres and get in, push my handle down and try and keep myself up so
the guys behind me can get in. By the 50-metre mark all the guys are in we hope,
and certainly in a variety of fashions, but they keep low and they don’t move,
once they’re down they don’t move until we get down the bottom.
Amanda Smith: So they’re doing nothing?
Will Alstergren: They’re doing nothing apart from almost holding their breath.
If it’s a straight, like St Moritz, they literally hold their breath for almost
a minute, because any movement will put us onto one of the walls and will knock
and we’ll lose time.
SOUND OF SLED DESCENDING
Amanda Smith: And what are you doing? You’re the driver, you’ve all got in.
Will Alstergren: We’ve all got in, I basically have to settle myself into a
position where I can lean back as far as I can and still see over the front of
the cowling, which is the front of the bobsled. I’ve got two toggles in front of
me, they’re tiny, they’re basically attached to a handle attached to a piece of
rope, or two pieces of rope.
Amanda Smith: So there’s not a steering wheel in there?
Will Alstergren: There’s no steering wheel, no. Steering wheel reactions are too
slow. I control the front runners of the sled on an axle. What that means is if
you can imagine I’ve put my hands together and I’ve got about an inch of play in
steering, and it’s all I can do. When you first start bobsledding, it’s almost
like a wrestling match, you sort of try and steer it up and down and get off
that corner as quickly as you possibly can. As you get better at it, the least
amount you do is the best.
Amanda Smith: All right, well are you and the other Aussie Bobs up for another
shot at the Olympics in Turin in 2006?
Will Alstergren: We’re certainly going to be there. We’re going to be doing
everything we possibly can to do it, we’ll have a national training program, a
recruiting program, we’ll be going to Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane
to try and attract athletes.
Amanda Smith: And take that ‘Cool Runnings’ film with you, the video of that?
Will Alstergren: That ‘Cool Runnings’ film will be right there, and we’re hoping
that we’ll have a women’s program this year. Australia hasn’t got a women’s
team, they should have one, and we’re going to make sure there will be a women’s
team for this season coming up, and we’ve got fantastic prospects for the
Amanda Smith: Will Alstergren, the Captain of the Australian Bobsleigh Team. And
good luck to them.
And that brings us to the end of The Sports Factor. Tim Symonds is the producer,
and I’m Amanda Smith.
Guests on this program:
Author: Amateurism In Sport
Captain of the Australian Bobsleigh Team
Australian Swimming Legend
Former Federal Parliamentarian and Founding leader of the Australian
Former Australian Tennis Champion
This is an archive copy of a document originally located at
All copyright remains with the creator.