I remember getting my first bike when I was six years old. It was a red hand-me-down from a family down the road whose ‘little tacker’ had outgrown, as, like his parents who were over six-foot-tall, he was growing faster than a tomato plant in the backyard. The day I got this bike, I took it straight across the road to the school oval where I eagerly jumped on my ‘red bullet’ with great expectations of my being the fastest kid on two wheels, ever.

Not quite how it panned out. Within the first minute, I had fallen off, grazed both my knees, got gravel in my palms and nearly lost a couple of my baby teeth, but that didn’t stop me. I kept trying. Sure, I was wobbly, but after about ten minutes I had mastered the art of not falling off; braking was another issue, but that came later in that same day.

I dreamed of being the fastest, most competitive rider that Australia had ever seen. I remember watching the Commonwealth Games on TV and thinking to myself, imagine being that good, being able to race around a track and win one of those cool medals to wear around my neck. And I’m pretty sure I was not the only little boy or girl to ever have that thought.

Fast forward to now, and that exact feeling will be being felt again as the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games unfold. Take a moment to think about this; how many of these athletes competing do you think started out in their chosen sport by doing exactly what I did as a six-year-old? I bet, all of them. All of these athletes started out as kids (and some of them really still are) who jumped on their bike and fell off or who jumped into the swimming pool and flayed their arms around like a windmill.

In every house across the Mackay and Whitsunday district, I’m sure there is a whole new generation of little sports stars in the making who are sitting watching these athletes compete and are dreaming themselves of one day wearing the green and gold too.

Encourage these kids, cheer them on and support them because who knows, they could just be the next Ian Thorpe or Anna Meares. But don’t forget to have the Dettol at the ready.



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