Torquay Summer Olympians: The next century

Olympic Games of the 21st Century have seen some significant changes in competition and technology. For example, Sydney 2000 introduced the triathlon, and more sports have been introduced this century. The Tokyo Olympics are introducing four new sports — skateboarding, surfing, karate and sport climbing.

Significantly technology has improved the accuracy, enjoyment and experiences of both athletes and spectators at sporting events. In 2000 mobile phones didn’t have an internet connection, cameras were low resolution, and the main way to consume the Olympics was on the TV.  Innovation such as:

  • Photo finish equipment capturing 3,000 photos per second to track winners in races.
  • Athletic apparel can now measure heart rate, respiratory activity, posture, speed and weight distribution.
  • Goal-Line Technology (GLT)
  • Video Assistant Referee system
  • GPS tracking to collect data and stats on player performance.
  • Full body suits in swimming, later to be banned
  • Virtual flags representing each swimmer in their lane
  • Superimposed world record line in swimming
  • Tennis Hawk-Eye and smart racquets with chips to record power and spin
  • Big screens are used at venues to screen the games
  • Coverage of events around the world via the Internet and multiple devices.

There have been three Olympians with a connection to Torquay this century. Kyra Cooney-Cross is our newest Olympian currently competing with the Matildas.

Torquay hopes that Kyra gets the chance to shine. 

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2008 Beijing Olympics

Sonia Heath

Sonia Heath (nee Mills) is an Australian former rower – an Australian national champion, world champion and an Olympian with success in both sculls and in sweep-oared boat classes.

Sonia first represented Australia when she competed in the 2004 World Rowing Championships in a coxless four. The following year she competed in the World Rowing Cups I and II where the team placed first. A few weeks later at the 2005 World Rowing Championships in Japan Sonia rowed in the women’s eight to a gold medal and a world championship title.

She won silver at the 2006 World Rowing Championships. Sonia’s final Australian representative outing was at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Mills and partner Catriona Sens rowed in the Women’s double Scull at Beijing and finished eighth. Mills also qualified for the quad scull boat for the 2008 games.

Sonia joined Torquay Surf Life Saving Club in seasons 2011/12 and 2015/16 and rowed boats.

James Marburg rowing

James Marburg won a silver medal at his first Olympic Games in Beijing. The Victorian combined with Francis Hegerty, Matt Ryan and Cameron McKenzie-McHarg in the coxless four at the 2008 Games. The crew valiantly qualified the boat for the Games at the final selection regatta and came close to the gold medal in the Olympic final.

James returned to Olympic competition in the London 2012 Games teaming up with Brodie Buckland in the men’s pair finishing in fifth place. James represented Australia at five World Rowing Championships.

James was a Member of Torquay Surf Life Saving Club for 2 seasons 2015-17 and rowed boats.

2020/21 Tokyo Olympics

Kyra Lillee Cooney-Cross (born 2002) is an Australian soccer player who plays as a forward for Melbourne Victory in the W-League and is currently with the Matilda’s at Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Her father Jai had played football with the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. She attended Surf Coast Secondary College before pursuing her dream of soccer.

Kyra spent three years in Ballarat City between 2013–2016, and then in 2017, she was signed by Melbourne Victory, playing in their W-League premier title-winning squad the following season.

In December 2020, following one season at Western Sydney Wanderers, Kyra returned to Melbourne Victory.

From 2016 to 2019, Kyra represented Australia internationally as a member of junior squads in the Women’s Championships.

In 2019, she was named as a standby player for the Australian squad participating in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and later that year, she was named in the Australia U-20 squad participating Women’s Championship. She was recently named the Westfield W-League Young Player of the Year.

Kyra made her debut for the Australian women’s national soccer team in a 3-2 friendly loss to Denmark earlier this year.

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