The 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games were spectacular. From the Opening Ceremony when the Olympic flame was lit by a flaming arrow fired by a Spanish archer to images such as divers launching themselves from the 10m platform with the city skyline as a backdrop, made for a visual feast.
For the first time since 1964, a single German team competed (East and West Germany had previously competed separately). South Africa also returned to the Games for the first time since 1960.
Two athletes connected to Torquay were selected but only one competed.
The 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games had issues with commercialisation, transportation and accommodation, and, though extra security precautions were taken, a pipe-bomb explosion in Centennial Olympic Park caused one death.
The only Olympian with a connection to Torquay was Michael Klim.
1992 Barcelona Olympics
Matthew McArdle, Australian rower, competed in the men’s coxless pair event at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. Matthew was a member of Torquay Surf Life Saving Club gaining his Bronze in 1994 and competing in the boat section that season.
Sharon Lee Russell (nee Stewart) was an Australian middle-distance runner who specialised in the 800 metres. She commenced running with the Ballarat YCW club in the early 80’s. Under the guidance of Tony Benson, she represented Australia on many occasions. Sharon won the Australian 800m championships 3 times and the 400m championships twice. She represented Australia at two World Championships and won bronze at the 1986 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games (4x400m Relay) and another bronze medal (800m) at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games as well as a silver medal (4x400m Relay).
Her achievements were recognised by the Sportsmen’s Association of Australia Ballarat associates’ branch when they named her a Sportswoman of the Year in 1985, 1986, 1989.
Sharon went on to be selected and joined the team for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games in the 400m and the 4x400m Relay. However, influenza the week before the games meant her times were reduced and she was replaced by Michelle Lock in both events.
Sharon married Jack Russell a member of Pt Leo SLSC. She obtained her Bronze at Jan Juc SLSC in 1987 and joined Torquay Surf Life Saving Club for 4 seasons 1990/91 – 1993/94. Sharon won Gold for the Women’s Senior Beach Sprint and was a member of Women’s Beach Relay Team that also won Gold at the Victorian State Surf Life Saving Titles in 1993.
Taekwondo was a demonstration sport at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. It was the second time that the sport was included in the Olympic program; becoming an official sport eight years later at the 2000 Games.
Simon grew up in Torquay and was supported by a Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship. His training took him to South Korea to train with the world’s best, and to many international competitions. On the road to the Olympics he won a string of medals, including winning gold at three Victorian and four Australian Championships.
Simon competed in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games obtaining a bronze medal in the Heavyweight (> 83 kilograms) division.
1996 Atlanta Olympics
Michael Klim OAM, triple Olympian, won six Olympic medals during his swimming career. He first entered the Olympic stage at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics winning Bronze as a member of the 4x100m medley relay. In 2000 at the Sydney Olympics, he won Gold as a member of the 4x100m and 4x200m Freestyle relay teams and Silver as a member of the 4x100m medley relay and in the individual 100m butterfly. At the 2004 Athens Olympics he won silver as a member of the 4x200m freestyle relay. He retired from swimming in 2007.
Michael Klim joined Torquay Surf Life Saving Club as a Cadet in 1991/92. At the 1992 Victorian State Titles Michael won gold medals for the Under 15 Sprint swim, Under 15 Run Swim Run and Cameron Relay and Silver Medals for the Under 15 Iron Man and Under 15 Surf race Teams. Michael gained his Bronze in 1992 and remained a member of the club for another 4 seasons but did not compete for the club concentrating on pool swimming. Michael was awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) Medal in 2001 ‘for service to sport as a gold medallist at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games’.