Who is Australia’s greatest athlete?

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    Quade CooperWho is Australia’s greatest athlete? This is a point of discussion that many Aussies have had over a few beers in the past. Who hasn’t argued across the bar about whether league players are fitter than AFL players, or whether ironmen are fitter than swimmers. Or whether V8 supercar drivers are even fit at all.

    Billy Slater from the Melbourne Storm rugby league club has dominated the past two seasons of Rexona’s greatest athlete. His versatility proved superior against the other athletes, some of whom amazed me how they actually make a living out of sport.

    However, that’s what makes this competition so intriguing: bringing athletes out of their comfort zone and exposing them against athletes that excel at a particular task.

    Slater is not competing in this year’s event, and the spot for rugby league player has gone to Newcastle Knight, Kurt Gidley.

    Gidley, a 90kg fullback for the Newcastle Knights, is well know for his cardiovascular fitness, often outrunning the beep test in Knights pre-season training.

    However, with the absence of Slater the favourite is world ironman champion, Shannon Eckstein.

    Eckstein’s ability to excel in the water-based events gives him an immediate advantage over the rest of the competitors. However, I see Eckstein remaining the bridesmaid for at least another year.

    Current Olympic K1000 Kayak champion, Ken Wallace, comes into the competition as an underdog and unknown to the majority of the sporting public.

    Kayaking not being a mainstream sport in Australia, Wallace carries virtual anonymity when outside the kayak sphere. Most footy fans would stroll past Wallace on the street and not even think twice about his ability as an athlete.

    The truth is, Wallace has a number of strings to his bow.

    Growing up on the Gold Coast, Wallace – like Eckstein – excelled in Ironman racing. In fact, they competed against each other for many years before Wallace’s ability as a ski paddler was harnessed in the realm of kayaking.

    Like many of our former Ironman champions such as Grant Kenny, Clint Robinson and Trevor Hendy, Wallace followed the Olympic dream. Kayaking is a sport that not only displays upper body fitness, but power, speed and endurance in a dynamic fashion.

    Kayakers spend hours in the weight room and a considerable time on the running track, not to mention the hours in the canal building their engines.

    Funnily enough, this is not what makes Wallace so unique as an athlete.

    Unlike the majority of competitors, Ken Wallace’s favourite hobby outside of kayaking is riding his jet ski, which features as one of the events in this season’s show.

    His ability in the jet ski event (one which is targeted towards the motor sport competitor, Mark Winterbottom) will surprise people, and I suspect it will be the difference in being crowned as Australia’s greatest athlete.

    In my opinion the top three will be Wallace, Eckstein and Gidley. The rest of the competitors will display ability in their chosen event, but lack the versatility to adapt to the other events.

    Rexona - Australia's Greatest Athlete - sponsored post

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    The Crowd Says (23)

    • February 9th 2011 @ 8:14am
      Jetto said | February 9th 2011 @ 8:14am | ! Report

      Surprising Paddy – I would’ve though Eckstein was a certainty but your look at Wallace the bolter will make it very interesting.

      Gidley seems to have a bit of the Slater versatility, so your top three is a good one. Surely none will be as bad as big Dell? 😉

      I was hoping Mark Webber might compete and thrash the field, but looks like he’s just there to give some tips and challenges on the TV show.

    • February 9th 2011 @ 8:18am
      James said | February 9th 2011 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      Is this article an advertisement for Australia Greatest Athlete

      • Roar Guru

        February 9th 2011 @ 8:25am
        Rabbitz said | February 9th 2011 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        Given the recent plastering of The Roar site with ads for this show I was waiting for the sycophantic article to appear.

        Gotta pay the bills somehow I guess, but at least I was able to block the invasive ads and can say I will not watch the show nor buy the sponsors products.

      • Roar Guru

        February 9th 2011 @ 8:25am
        MyLeftFoot said | February 9th 2011 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        The two pop ups give a bit of a hint.

        A man has to make a living.

        • February 9th 2011 @ 9:10am
          GrecoGuy said | February 9th 2011 @ 9:10am | ! Report

          Are you saying that because the Aussie Rules guys never go any good?

          • Roar Guru

            February 9th 2011 @ 9:16am
            MyLeftFoot said | February 9th 2011 @ 9:16am | ! Report

            Do people on here take this thing seriously?

            One of the events is jet skiiing – no darts or hookey?

            • February 9th 2011 @ 9:22am
              GrecoGuy said | February 9th 2011 @ 9:22am | ! Report

              Or kicking at a goal where even if you miss you still get a point? Or an event where the competitor can fumble the ball the longest distance.

              • Roar Guru

                February 9th 2011 @ 9:23am
                MyLeftFoot said | February 9th 2011 @ 9:23am | ! Report

                Absolutely – or we make it fair dinkum – kicks from outside 50m, and only allow those that make it on the full.

                Now I wonder why they don’t do that?

      • February 9th 2011 @ 2:10pm
        Zac said | February 9th 2011 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

        Hi James,

        Yes, this is a sponsored post. We don’t run these often, but we hope that you understand they help keep our content free and we feel the content is relevant.

        Thanks for your feedback.

        The Roar

    • February 9th 2011 @ 8:20am
      DB said | February 9th 2011 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      How do you qualify for this? do each sports athletes compete amongst themselves to qualify? If not than it’s not Australia’s greatest athlete, but the best out of those chosen. sorry to ruin your infomercial

      • February 9th 2011 @ 9:14am
        GrecoGuy said | February 9th 2011 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        So how would you work out who represents each sport? Also which sport to enter? I admit I have my biases, but the best athletes, at the Olympics at least, are the Decathletes/Heptathletes, Gymnasts and Wrestlers/Judokas. I guess they just don’t have the profile for a commercially driven TV show.

        • Roar Guru

          February 9th 2011 @ 9:19am
          MyLeftFoot said | February 9th 2011 @ 9:19am | ! Report

          Absolutely – let’s have a decatholon – I agree 100% – none of this jetskiing rubbish.

        • Roar Guru

          February 9th 2011 @ 9:22am
          MyLeftFoot said | February 9th 2011 @ 9:22am | ! Report

          Decathlon program:

          Day 1
          100 metres
          Long jump
          Shot put
          High jump
          400 metres
          Day 2
          110 metres hurdles
          Discus throw
          Pole vault
          Javelin throw
          1500 metres

          Sounds good to me: Citius, Altius, Fortius

    • February 9th 2011 @ 8:30am
      Working Class Rugger said | February 9th 2011 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      Would have liked to see James O’Connor back this season as apart from Eckstien he took it to Slater.

    • February 9th 2011 @ 1:57pm
      jameswm said | February 9th 2011 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

      The tests should be something like this:

      – 100 freestyle (swimming ability)

      – 60m run (speed)

      – 3 or 5 km run (endurance)

      – snatch or clean and jerk – raw power.

      – Possibly also a standing vertical jump, or even high jump

      – climbing or chin-ups – to test strength-to-weight ratio

      – an agility test of some sort – a course could be set

      – even a rowing machine for a combination of power and endurance

      – a balance test – roller blading? Balance beam?

      – a test of hand-eye coordination – say catching high cricket balls, or hitting baseballs (in both cases from a bowling machine)

      I think there’s a difference between athlete and sportdsman too. Purely as an athlete, does hand-eye coordination come into it?

      • Roar Guru

        February 9th 2011 @ 2:13pm
        MyLeftFoot said | February 9th 2011 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

        All good points.

        But at the end of the day, it’s fun and entertainment – it’s not meant to be taken too seriously.

      • Roar Guru

        February 9th 2011 @ 2:21pm
        Jiggles said | February 9th 2011 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

        add an egg and spoon race and then i am sold!

      • February 9th 2011 @ 5:27pm
        JohnB said | February 9th 2011 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

        Agree in principle, although the Olympic lifts (snatch and clean and jerk) involve an awful lot of technique. Maybe some of the power lifts (squats or deadlift) would be a better test. There is still technique involved, but it’s a bit simpler and any serious sportsman would have these lifts in their training so would have a reasonable handle on the technique.

        Have to say, how jet-ski-ing could get a guernsey in something like this will remain one of the puzzles of the ages to me.

        • February 10th 2011 @ 8:33am
          jameswm said | February 10th 2011 @ 8:33am | ! Report

          True about the technique of weightlifting John, but I wold have thought all these sportspeople do weight lifting as part of their training. I did for athletics – cleans and snatches more than jerks. Squats are more about leg strength than leg power though. Maybe stationary bike tests this better.

    • February 9th 2011 @ 4:48pm
      Jimi said | February 9th 2011 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

      Kurt Gidley has definitely not outrun the beep test

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