Brandon Starc walked in wrapped in the national colours on Wednesday with a knowing smile of having won Australia's first high jump Games gold since 1994 and stepped out of the shadow of his more illustrious brother, cricketer Mitchell. "I feel really good to calling myself as a Commonwealth Games gold medalist. I love everything about Mitchell. What he's done is incredible but to put my name down there now, it's a good feeling. I used to play cricket when I was younger but yeah it's my brother's sport, I don't really follow it," said Brandon.
Born to lift
It's a country you'd struggle to spot on a map. Nauru, the world's tiniest island nation measuring 8.1 miles and with a population of just under 10000, has won all its medals at the Commonwealth Games: 29, which includes 10 gold, in weightlifting. At this Games, 10 of its 16 athletes are lifters and they've won one silver medal in the Women's +90 kgs. It's the sport, Nauru team official Morey Detudamo says, the country is born to play. "We've tried basketball, football, volleyball, but we're no good at any of them. This is what we can do well. It's because of the way we're built. " Genetically short and stocky, it even had one of its most successful lifters and Commonwealth Games gold medalist Marcus Stephen as the country's president.
When Sathish Sivalingam walked out of the players' arena with the clink of a gold medal, P Gururaja, the 56kg silver medalist from Friday, was one of the first to rush to hug him. Roommates at the national camp, both share a close relationship, the kind that's willing to hold off a party till the other finds a reason to join in.
"Anna (elder brother) didn't lift the weight he did today even once in the past three months. But he did it here. I couldn't celebrate much after my win because I was anxious about his result. Now that we've both finished with medals within the first three days of the competition, we'll make plans to hit the beach."
As we turned a bend on the greens towards the Carrara stadium, local journalists in the shuttle bus ferrying media persons whistled and cheered. Outside, well-fed cows went about their daily business, chewing the grass at a slow, labored pace. They had no idea that they'd gotten about half a dozen people animated. On the bulging bellies of the un-mindful cattle painted in bright green letters were the words 'Go Aus'.
If foreign accents aren't your thing, Aussie talk may not appeal to you. It's the land where letters at the end of words are knocked off at will and vowel sounds are unusually long. If you're from the subcontinent you'd only naturally be troubled by it. Funnily, it was an athlete who was caught in a spot of bother. A local fan had walked up to him, exchanged plesantries and enquired about what he felt about sledging in sport. The athlete blinked back, trying to make sense of the words thrown at him and replied with a safe 'good, thank you'. Only in this case it was foot in the mouth.