Tag: Australia

Down Under

Down Under

In October, 1988, my wife Pat and I boarded a plane in Birmingham for a flight to Sydney, Australia, so that I could compete in the International Police Olympics in both wrestling and the 1500 meter run. Our flight went from Birmingham to Atlanta; Atlanta to LA (crossing back over Alabama); LA to Honolulu; Honolulu to Auckland, New Zealand; Auckland to Sydney. A stretch of 36 hours in the delightful company of fellow FBI agent Tom Wiseman and his wife, plus a number of skilled and seasoned Alabama local, county, and state police officers and their spouses. We were beaten to a nub when we finally touched down in Sydney, washed out and worn to a frazzle, barely in time to bum rides in the back of a police paddy wagons to the evening Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics in a massive rugby stadium in downtown Sydney.

There were over 5000 competitors from all over the world participating in dozens of athletic events as well as in marksmanship with long and short guns. Our Alabama contingent wore white sweat shirts with a  crimson Alabama emblazoned on the front. The stadium lights bathed the venue as all the competitors lined up in orderly rows in the grass facing the reviewing stand crowded with VIPs in front of thousands of spectators. I easily spotted Pat in the stands, her long blond hair and height of 5’7″ giving her away. We later purchased a wide angle photograph of the ceremonies. My thinning hair and high forehead was visible in full glare. I reminded my children when they were growing up that my missing hair was with Jesus.  

After opening speeches welcoming the competitors and audience, the Australian national anthem, Waltzing Matilda, was played by a live band. I looked to my right and saw Australian Customs Agents lined up next to us. I casually said to one of them, “Who’s minding  the border?” He shrugged and said, “Who gives a shit mate!”

I finished both of my Olympic events in track and and wrestling before the end of the week, leaving time for Pat and me to see the sights in and around Sydney.  Based on the results of my efforts in competition, I should have wrestled the runners and run against the wrestlers.