It's hard to believe that the Sydney 2000 Olympics were held 20 ago. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of what was coined by the then President of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch as "The best Olympic Games ever" lets cast our minds back to Fairfield's contribution to the games.
The Games of the XXVII Olympiad were held from September 15 to October 1 with Fairfield doing some very heavy lifting in hosting events. The motto of the Games of the new Millennium was "Share the Spirit - Dare to Dream" and Fairfield did exactly that.
The Fairfield area was the focus of many lead-up events including training and practice sessions putting us on the international stage. The lead up to the opening of the games culminated with the iconic Torch Relay passing through the streets of Fairfield. Residents caught a glimpse of the Torch and for a lucky few they had the chance to carry it through the streets. This of course brought with it much media attention and gave residents the opportunity to be well and truly a part of Olympic history.
I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to be the Master of Ceremonies for several multicultural events hosted by Fairfield Council. I can remember the colour and excitement from local groups as they joined in the celebrations. Local sport and social clubs also played their part in the celebrations by rolling out the welcome mat for team athletes and officials.
Pre-games many athletes and teams had the opportunity to test out the venues that were built in Fairfield. In the months leading up to the Olympics it was very common to see entourages of athletes darting across the city to practice sessions. One of these practice events was held at Marconi Stadium. I was the official ground announcer at Marconi at the time and was given the opportunity to ground announce the practice game between the under-23 Brazilian Football team against the Marconi Stallions First Grade Squad. I recall the excitement and buzz in the air as Marconi Stadium was packed to the rafters, with the stadium being closed an hour before kick-off due to it reaching its maximum capacity. Locals turned up in force to see the likes of Ronaldinho grace the hallowed turf of Marconi Stadium.
Fairfield was given the opportunity to shine with Olympic events taking place at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre at Horsley Park, Western Sydney Parklands - Fairfield City Farm at Abbotsbury and the Sydney International Shooting Centre at Cecil Park.
As a lasting legacy Fairfield has international sports and recreation infrastructure which can be enjoyed by the community. The Diary at Abbotsbury is a lasting reminder of the games with walking and cycling tracks that wind around the equestrian cross-country course with its visible thoroughfares and obstacles still in place. The Dairy's paths takes walkers around the back of the world class Equestrian Centre. Fairfield City Farm has a special place in the heart of the community and during the games it was the epicentre for the Mountain Bike events which saw Australian Cycling Legend Cadel Evans rise to fame.
The Dairy can rightfully lay claim to hosting Australian Equestrian Team Gold medallists, Andrew Hoy, Phillip Dutton, Matt Ryan and Stuart Tinney in the Team Three Day Event. Down the road at Cecil Park, Michael Diamond secured gold in the Trap event at the Sydney International Shooting Centre at Cecil Park.
The Sydney 2000 Olympics was a magical time in the history of the state and we can all be proud of Fairfield's contribution to making it the "Best Games Ever."