20 years ago, the City of Blacktown was a major player in the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Blacktown International Sportspark was then called Blacktown Olympic Park and was the venue for the Baseball and Softball competition as well as Athletics training.
Blacktown Aquatic Centre was also an official training venue for a number of Olympic swim teams.
Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM said, “Our City’s contribution to the success of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games was immense, and the Sydney Olympics put Blacktown on the world stage.”
To mark the 20th anniversary, two of the athletes, the venue Police Commander at the time, an Olympic volunteer and Mayor Bleasdale, returned to the Olympic site and recalled their strongest and fondest memories of September 2000.
When Fiona Crawford retired from representative softball in 2007 she had played 223 games for Australia, competed at two Olympic Games, three World championships and was on teams that won gold, silver or bronze medals at 28 international tournaments.
Fiona was Australia’s starting second base for every game at the Sydney Olympics; “My career highlight at the Games was when we beat the USA in the 13th inning in the early rounds of the competition.”
“My proudest moment was being presented with the Olympic Bronze Medal in the pouring rain by AOC President John Coates,” enthused Fiona.
Glenn Williams is a dual Olympian and a 15-year professional in baseball including appearances with the Minnesota Twins in the United States MLB, and was manager of the Blacktown International Sportspark-based Sydney Blue Sox in their inaugural season in 2010.
“My proudest moment was making my debut for Australia at the age of 23 in the first game of the Baseball series at the 2000 Olympics here in the Blacktown Olympic Park.” Williams said.
Glenn went on to win a Silver Medal with the Australian Baseball team at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
Chief Inspector Bob Fitzgerald from Blacktown Police was the Venue Commander at the Blacktown Olympic Park in 2000.
“The Sydney Olympics were held under the tightest security ever seen in Australia,” explained Chief Inspector Fitzgerald.
“In the 18-months leading up to the Games we staged mock terrorist raids, tested security systems over and over again and carried out risk assessments on every possible threat, except one.
“Just a few days before the first game at the softball stadium we discovered a nest of brown snakes not a hundred metres away.
“From then on, we employed a snake catcher full time for the duration of the Games. I think that was an Olympic first.”
“My greatest memory of the Games was spending my off-duty hours as an Olympic volunteer with my wife Kate,” said Bob.
Kate Fitzgerald spent days at the Olympics as a volunteer.
“It was the most fantastic experience of my life. I just remember that everyone was smiling all the time. My greatest moments happened every time Australia won an event,” said Kate.
Photo: (from left) Venue Commander Bob Fitzgerald, Bronze Medallist Fiona Crawford, Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM, Olympian Glenn Williams and volunteer Kate Fitzgerald at the scene of the Olympic Softball series. Fiona, Glenn and Kate are all sporting their original Sydney 2000 uniforms and Kate is holding Fiona’s Olympic Bronze medal.