Finding Her Focus Transcript 2009: Adam Spencer

Finding Her Focus Transcript

ADAM SPENCER, PRESENTER: Hello I’m Adam Spencer from ABC Local Radio.
Tonight’s Australian Story is about a woman I first met through a shared passion for the work of the late, great Fred Hollows. I’m talking about Susie O’Neill. It’s just over eight years since Susie walked away from a swimming career celebrated in the annals of Australian sporting history. But in that time, she’s never turned her back on an interest that first came to her attention at the height of her career. Tonight’s Australian Story follows Susie, and her husband Cliff Fairley to Alice Springs on a trip they hope, will make a real difference. SUSIE O’NEILL: It’s been really bizarre adjusting to the real world because I think as an elite athlete you really have an unrealistic life. You’re actually put on a real pedestal and I think you get used to people cheering every time you do an achievement, or knowing all about you and so it’s been sort of weird. Like now when I do something like get the kids to bed on time at seven o’clock, you know, there’s not 10,000 people there going, yeah, good job. GERRY COLLINS, ABC COMMENTATOR: I think Susie’s right up there with the very best of Australian swimmers. The fact that she won medals at three different Olympic Games is extraordinary. CLIFF FAIRLEY, HUSBAND AND OPHTHALMOLOGIST: Being a high profile athlete like Suse, certainly entitles you to a lot of privileges in life, I guess, that the average person doesn’t get. I think it’s certainly fair to say that Suse has never really got too caught up in that. But still she’s gone from getting out of a pool, someone will give her a towel, someone will give her a drink bottle, someone will want to massage her. To two screaming kids throwing spaghetti at her and blowing raspberries. Life is certainly different. SUSIE O’NEILL: I just played a lot of sport when I was younger. And swimming I enjoyed doing and went to the local pool and started in a squad there. I was nine-years-old when I started. My name’s Susan. It always has been. That’s what my friends mostly call me, that or Suse. They started calling me Little Susie in the commentating and I don’t know everyone just started calling me that. STEPHEN WIDMER, FORMER ASSISTANT COACH: Susie wasn’t probably the most physical gifted what I’ve seen, but she has a great working ethic. What we coaches throw at the athletes, it’s not just the physical side of training. It’s handling the whole mental side, the commitment, the pain. And Susie’s commitment and handling this side of the game, that was her outstanding talent. (Excerpt from ABC TV News, 1996) SUSIE O’NEILL: We’re only athletes, it’s not as if we’ve, I don’t feel like I’ve done anything too special. (END OF EXCERPT)
GERRY COLLINS, ABC COMMENTATOR: Susie was always very shy and very quiet. But the one thing that you could see in her was this incredible competitive spirit. She wasn’t the champion who would, sort of struts along the pool so to speak. She just seemed like a normal person and I think people loved that.

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