Steve Waugh in Beijing on an Olympic assignment

August 8th, 2008 - 6:13 pm ICT by IANS  

V Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 8(IANS) Known for his heroic performances whenever the Australian cricket team was in trouble, Steve Waugh is now busy passing on tips to his country’s athletes on handling pressure situations in Olympics. Sent to Beijing as mentor of the Australian Olympic squads in 11 disciplines, the former Australian cricket captain Thursday visited the Australian Beach Volleyball team girls and had a chat with them.

“I’ve met the girls a couple of times, but I haven’t met the guys. It’s all about getting to the practice venue and saying hello, showing your face, and if they want to use us fine, if they don’t likewise. It’s nice just to come along and show your support at the training sessions,” Waugh said.

Waugh was thrilled with his Olympics assignment. “It’s sensational mate. It’s a real privilege to be here. To get up so close and personal with so many sports and training venues, and to see what they have put into their sports, I feel really honoured to be here.”

Waugh is one of the three mentors - the other two are Australian Rules football captain John Eales and gold medal-winning rower Kate Allen - deput├ęd to motivate the athletes.

Talking of his role with the Australian teams in he select disciplines, he said: “I’ve met most of them over the past six to nine months, just to try and build up a relationship and if any of the athletes need some words from us (the three mentors). I guess our role is to pass on our own experiences in sport.”

Waugh had led Australia to a gold medal finish in the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, where cricket made its debut in a multi-discipline sports celebrations.

He also played a prominent role in the torch relay for the Sydney Olympic Games, 2000, as also the last edition of the quadrennial event four years back at Athens.

Waugh recently pitched for the inclusion of cricket as an Olympic sport. “The idea of Twenty20 cricket at the Olympics is definitely worth pursuing. If you want to globalise the game then you have to look at including countries like China and the United States, and getting cricket into the Olympics will fast-track that move.”

Last year in December, the International Olympic Committee gave cricket the status of a “recognised sport” for two years.

Such a status is given to sports that are not part of the Olympic program but conform to its ideals of youth promotion and anti-doping policies.

Recently, former Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist had also written in a column that it would be great to have cricket at the Olympic Games.

He wrote, “The chance to stand on top of the Olympic podium, to wear an Olympic gold medal and the pride of belting out your national anthem would be a life-changing money-can’t-buy experience.”

Waugh in the past has often said he missed not having ever got a chance to compete at the Olympic Games. But he did visit the Olympic Village at the Sydney Olympics and is doing so again in Beijing.

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