Weightlifting: Carroll the latest gain

Fox Sports, Australia
Oct 7 2004

Carroll the latest gain
By Grantlee Kieza
October 8, 2004

GENERATIONS of immigrants were reborn to a new life in America,
passing by New York’s Statue of Liberty and its message of hope:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to
breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

But that’s America and we have a different motto out here.

In Australia, we’re not so much interested in the huddled masses but
in hulking football forwards or weightlifters with thighs bigger than
Texas or rugby rookies looking for a fresh start. We don’t want the
tired and poor, we want the energetic who are going to win gold.

Don’t worry about wretched refuse, either, we want people who can run
fast, leap high, punch hard and, in the case of Tonie Carroll, who
don’t mind switching camps.

Carroll’s selection as a Kangaroo utility for the Tri-Nations
tournament makes him the fourth league player to represent both Anzac
nations and brings league full circle after the first great Kangaroo,
Dally Messenger, was seconded to the New Zealand team for a tour of
Britain in 1907.

Two years later, Con Sullivan emigrated from New Zealand to play for
North Sydney and in 1910 made his Test debut for his adopted country.

Balmain’s Bill Kelly, a dual international in New Zealand, toured
Queensland and NSW in 1912-13 before his Australian call-up in 1914.

Like another hard-hitting Queenslander, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Carroll
was born in New Zealand but built a ferocious reputation in the
Sunshine State.

He said he had been asked to play for New Zealand every year since
playing in the black jumper at the 2000 World Cup but had declined
because he wanted to play for Queensland in the Origin series.

“I was born in New Zealand and I did play for them in 2000,” Carroll
explained, “but I’ve been here since I was six, so I think I’ve
earned my stripes.

“The most important thing for me was State of Origin.

“I’ve got a few phone calls from [the NZRL] this year, but I said no
and I’ve got to stick to my decision.”

Over the years Australian rugby union has also benefited from players
shifting loyalties with the arrival of Argentine strongmen Topo
Rodriguez and Patricio Noriega and, more recently, Tiaan Strauss and
Clyde Rathbone from South Africa.

But the Kiwis got one back on us when they scooped up Steve Devine
from Boggabri for the All Blacks.

While our national economy was built around the export of wool and
wheat, we’re now just as famous for importing talent. And not just
Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Mel Gibson.

Back in the 50s immigrants were credited for making us a richer
society, giving us souvlaki, spaghetti and goulash instead of fish,
chips and chops. Now they add to our reputation for sporting

At the Manchester Commonwealth Games two years ago, Australia’s
immigrant athletes won more medals than most countries.

Twelve Aussie immigrants won 22 medals between them for Australia,
including 15 gold.

If they had entered as a team on their own, the Australian immigrants
would have finished fifth on the medal table among 72 nations taking

Wrestler Mushtaq Rasem Abdullah won bronze after spending two years
in a UN refugee camp in Jordan after fleeing Baghdad.

Shooter Lalita Yauhleuskaya, who left Belarus for the land Down Under
in 1998, won three gold and a bronze and Armenian weightlifters
Yourik Sarkisian and Alex Karapetyn each won three gold.

Our athletics ranks soared in the years surrounding the Sydney
Olympics with the arrival from Belarus of world pole vault champ
Dmitri Markov and Russian husband and wife duo, Tatiana Grigorieva
and Viktor Chistiakov.

In cricket, some of our finest have worn the colours of the oldest
enemy, with Albert Trott, Sammy Woods and Billy Murdoch chief among
England’s best buys, while Kepler Wessels was a key figure in
Australian cricket before going home to South Africa.

In more recent times, England has fielded Martin McCague and Alan
Mullally, who were both raised in Australia, and the Hollioake boys
who were born here.

American basketballers Ricky Grace, Scott Fisher and Cal Bruton have
all played for Australia while boxing’s favourite Aussie import
Kostya Tszyu competed at the Seoul Olympics and won a world amateur
title under the flag of the Soviet Union.

When Tszyu first fought in Sydney in November, 1991, it was 30C and
sunny every day. When he went back to Russia it was -30C and there
was so much snow he could hardly see a thing.

He didn’t take much convincing to come back for good.