Australian politics, society & culture

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Ian Nowak

Malcolm Knox’s piece on child sport resonated hugely with me (‘One-sport Wonders’, May). I was able to play whatever I liked without pressure from parents, teachers or coaches. I sprinted and long-jumped, played hockey at university and, at 73, can still knock off most comers at ping-pong. My 11-year-old grandson, Oliver, also loves hockey, plays a nice game of tennis and has represented WA as a taekwondo black belt. Last summer, he was ‘spotted’ by the West Australian Institute of Sport at a vacation camp as a diving prospect. He went through some tests, did well, and was invited to participate in their program. What did they want? Training Monday, Tuesday and Saturday mornings, plus Thursday and Friday evenings. His folks were horrified, but Oliver knew it would be the end of hockey and taekwondo, and probably his clarinet lessons, so he very reasonably said, “No point.”

I applauded his decision. He’s comfortable in his own sporting skin. As an adult he will, I hope, have enjoyed his childhood and had the good sense not to chase what’s almost certain to end in tears as the chimera of elite representation most probably fades.

Ian Nowak

Subiaco, WA