How Fortunate?


I have been thinking how fortunate I am.

Nehad Makhadmeh’s presentation at a seminar this weekend and listening to Angelina Jolie about her visit to Lebanon have been the catalysts for my thinking.

Angelina shared a video story on SBS of meeting Hala, aged 11, and her brothers and sisters fending for themselves in a refugee camp in Lebanon.

It is estimated that there are one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, a country the size of the Australian state of Tasmania. Under Australia’s Humanitarian Program in 2011-12, 13,759 visas were granted to refugees.


Nehad’s city of Al Ramtha in northern Jordan has seen an influx of 200,000 refugees in the last three years.

Sitting in a local cafe in Braidwood with our two grandchildren was a powerful reminder to me of how fortunate I am. Seeing Hala’s life in Lebanon I am left wondering about the scale of my good fortune.


Sunday is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. I will be thinking about Hala and the millions of displaced persons whose lives might be enriched and transformed by the kind of play in Braidwood it is all too easy to take for granted.

Photo Credits

Ivy and Jolyon at the playground (Keith Lyons)

Frame grab (SBS)

At Dee’s (Keith Lyons)

Visualising Olympic Performance

I receive a daily update from the Diigo Teacher-Librarian Group.

Yesterday Cathy Oxley shared three Olympic resources with Group members.

All three have an interesting approach to visualising Olympic performance.


SBS has produced a medals results page for all the Olympic Games in the modern era.

It appears as a map of the world.

The 2012 graphic is:

The medals for the first Olympic Games of the modern era were:

The New York Times

The New York Times has a visualisation of all medalists in three events in the modern era:

Performances are presented relative to Usain Bolt’s 2012 Olympic record.

I think this interactive visualisation is remarkable. It has set a new standard in how we share information about athletic performance.

The Slate

The Slate brings together eight contestants in four events (the 100-metres sprint, 100-metre freestyle swim, the long jump, and the discus) to bring together athletes from different Olympic eras (1896 to 2008).


I think these are wonderful resources. I am very impressed by the SBS medal selector and mesmerised by the New York Times visualisation … all thanks to Cathy Oxley’s links.





Last night I watched SBS’s broadcast of The Race That Shocked The World.

I though it was a remarkable documentary about events leading up to and following Ben Johnson‘s 100 metres victory in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

He won the race in a world record time of 9.79 seconds … and was disqualified 48 hours later.

All eight participants in the final were in the documentary: Robson da Silva (Lane 1), Ray Stewart (Lane 2), Carl Lewis (Lane 3), Linford Christie (Lane 4), Calvin Smith (Lane 5), Ben Johnson (Lane 6),  Desai Williams (Lane 7), Dennis Mitchell (Lane 8). The documentary contains archive video of each of these athletes and shows them as they are now, twenty-four years after the race.

For anyone interested in performance in sport there are some fascinating snippets of interviews with a remarkable cast:

  • The eight athletes
  • Contemporary athletes
  • Journalists
  • Coaches (Tom Tellez, Russ Rogers)
  • Joe Douglas (Santa Monica Track Club)
  • Robert Voy
  • Don Catlin
  • John Hoberman

Other dramatis personae were introduced but not interviewed: Charlie Francis; Robert Kerr; Jamie Astaphan.

I think the documentary is an exceptional resource for anyone thinking about qualitative enquiry in high performance sport. The narrative structure is very powerful. It uses historical images and juxtaposes them against the athletes today.

The program reminded me about a post from this blog earlier this year, Eyewitnesses, Memory and Oral History. In the struggle against forgetting I think The Race That Shocked The World is a very significant documentary.

The Race That Shocked The World is available on SBS on Demand for the next two weeks.

Photo Credits

Screen grabs from The Race That Shocked The World