Thursday, March 30, 2006
When I was leaving Christchurch airport on the evening of 28th of March some members of the New Zealand Commonwealth Games Team were returning from Melbourne.
A crowd of family, friends and local enthusiasts had gathered to greet them. As they came through people shouted out:
At the very end came a solitary figure with craggy features and afigure that was more sportsman than athlete. Were it not for the black tracksuit he might not have got a second glance, that and the gold medal hanging round his neck.
As the crowd spotted him there was a cheer, applause and a piper struck up “Scotland the Brave”. I don’t know the connection for Graeme Ede, shooting gold medallist in Melbourne but for me it made the moment more poignant. The lone figure paused briefly at the bottom of the stairs and then walked into the embrace of the waiting throng.
One of the security guards watching turned to me and said,
“It must be great to come home when you have finished the games and get that kind of reception”
I see my craggy faced friend ten thousand miles away. Body wracked by cancer but spirit hanging on. Paused at the bottom of the steps his game nearly over, his medal still to come.
I want to shout:
“Welcome home” and