Northern Rivers' magnificent seven
THEY were the Northern Rivers’ magnificent seven – Adam Pine, Petria Thomas, Dyana Calub, Adrian Meagher, Matthew Buckley, Kerry Saxby-Junna and Nathan Baggaley – our Sydney 2000 Olympians.
Ten years on most have mellowed and have children, mortgages and regular jobs. But the thought of that balmy September Olympics that sent Australians into raptures still brings tingles to those who were involved.
The only athlete still competing from those listed above is former Ballina Indoor swimmer Adam Pine, who at the age of 34, with two kids and one on the way, still churns out the laps from his base in Canberra.
The specialist butterflyer was also the only local athlete to claim a gold medal as part of the adrenalin-pumping 4 x 100m freestyle team that famously beat the USA, in which the team played ‘air guitars’ after reacting to quips from American sprinter Garry Hall Jnr.
Pine and Todd Pearson did not swim in the final with Michael Klim, Ashley Callus, Ian Thorpe and Chris Fydler, but both received gold medals because of their heat swims. Pine also receiveda silver medal for his heat swim in the4 x 100m medley relay.
“I guess for me it was a very successful Olympics,” he said. “My role in the final was actually helping Thorpey into his suit after he ripped the first one five minutes before the race.
“The Sydney Olympics was one of the greatest moments in Australian sport and I was lucky enough to be one of 58 Australians who won a gold medal, including all the members of teams like the water polo, hockey and cycling squads.
“It was just an unbelievable experience.”
Former Ballina Indoor squad members Dyana Calub and Petria Thomas also won medals at the Sydney Games.
Calub and Thomas were both a part of the 4 x 100m medley relay that claimed silver, while Thomas also claimed a silver in the 4 x 200m freestyle and bronze in the 200m butterfly.
Both are now mothers, with Calub in charge of two sets of twins – six-year-old girls Charlie and Hayley and three-year-olds Summer and Jackson – while Thomas, living in Canberra, has a boy Aiden and girl Zara.
Calub is now living at South Mission Beach in North Queensland and was typically candid when asked what she remembered of the Olympics.
“It was a party,” she chuckled.
“After the swimming was over, we would go out and watch the sport all day and then go out at night. I got to watch the taekwondo, the hockey, tennis and Cathy Freeman winning.”
Baseballers Matthew Buckley and Adrian Meagher, part of a side that failed to medal, are fathers, with Buckley running a personal training business in Lismore and Meagher based on the Gold Coast.
Kerry Saxby-Junna, who competed in the 20km walking race in which fellow Australian Jane Saville was awfully disqualified metres from the finish line while in the lead, is a teacher’s aide in Canberra and has two children, Renae and Christian.
Kayaker Nathan Baggaley narrowly missed out on a final in the K1 500m race in Sydney, but went on to have a stellar career which included multiple world championship gold medals and two silver medals in one hour at the Athens Olympics. He was subsequently jailed for drugs charges in 2009.