Indigenous stars poised for Games claims

Trailblazing Indigenous athletes breaking new ground in sports from volleyball to boxing will be among the 470 Australian sports heroes competing at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast from April 4.

Among the big names facing off against competitors from 71 nations and territories are volleyball star Taliqua Clancy, discus thrower Benn Harradine and boxer Clay Waterman.

For Harradine, the only Indigenous member of Australia’s athletics team, this will be his fourth and final Commonwealth Games.

Harradine, 35, made history in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics when he became the first Indigenous athlete to represent Australia in an Olympic field event.

Two years later he became the first Indigenous athlete to win a field medal at a major championship — the gold medal at the Delhi games for a huge throw of 65.4m.

Born in Newcastle, Harradine grew up in Lake Macquarie but didn’t discover his Indigenous heritage — the Wotjobaluk-Wergaia mob — until he was 22. He is now based in Sweden.

The golden girl of Australian volleyball, Taliqua Clancy, has also been making Australian history.

Clancy, 25, was Australia’s first Indigenous beach volleyballer to compete at an Olympic Games when she took to the sand in Rio in 2016.

She will compete on the Gold Coast with new sporting partner, Peruvian-born Mariafe Artacho del Solar.

The duo teamed up in October last year and has since been undefeated on the Asian and Federation Internationale de Volleyball Tour.

The Gold Coast Games will see Queensland-born Clancy, a Wulli Wulli woman, compete before a home crowd.

She grew up in the landlocked town of Kingaroy, more than 200km from a beach, where she began playing indoor volleyball.

Meanwhile, Queensland boxer Clay Waterman, 21, has sparred with US boxer and former world champion professional boxer Terence Crawford as part of his Commonwealth Games preparations.

Colorado Springs in the US has provided a training base for the Australian boxing team in the lead-up to the Gold Coast games.

But Waterman also likes to train in his back shed in Loganlea, Brisbane.

At a workshop for aspiring young boxers last month, NITV quoted Waterman as saying: “We just train in a shed in the backyard and look where it’s gotten me.

“It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or says, just always look forward and look for the good things in life.

“If you put your mind to things, you can do really great things.”

On Friday, Brooke Peris, the cousin of former Olympic Hockeyroo gold medallist and Olympic sprinter Nova Peris was announced as part of the Australian women’s hockey team, the Hockeyroos, to compete in the Games.

Peris, 25, from Darwin, overcame injury to win selection. It will be her second Commonwealth Games.

A Gold Coast Commonwealth Games spokesman said it was not known exactly how many of Australia’s 470 athletes were of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage.

Wendy Caccetta


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