In what can only be described as peak year 2000 nostalgia, a local man has revealed that he still holds a flame for Olympic silver medallist Tatiana Grigorieva. Today marks the 20th anniversary of Grigorieva’s brave silver medal in the pole vault at the Sydney Olympics, and Darren O’Dwyer said he’d spend a few moments tonight to raise a glass to his favourite Russian-born Australian athlete.
Speaking exclusively to The Watsonia Bugle about his long-held infatuation, O’Dwyer said, “Today’s all about remembering Cathy Freeman. I get that. Her Gold Medal in the 400 metres was awesome but, for me, September 25 is all about Tatiana. Like most Australians, I’d never heard of her before that magical night at Homebush all those years ago. But she truly leapt into my heart that night, and I’ll never forget it.”
Exactly 20 years ago tonight, the entire nation tuned in to see Cathy Freeman run in the 400 metres final, but Freeman’s iconic victory was almost overshadowed in the middle of the stadium as Grigorieva became a household name while simultaneously attempting to win gold in the women’s pole vault. Her eventual silver medal was celebrated long and hard by Australians, and afforded her equal cult figure status alongside fellow field silver medallist Jumping Jai Taurima.
O’Dwyer says he followed Grigorieva’s career quite closely after the Sydney Olympics, including her brief stint as a “Olympia” in the 2009 reboot of television’s Gladiators. According to O’Dwyer, Grigorieva’s status in Australian athletics history is undersold. He said, “A lot of people forget that she won Gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and then took Silver in the 2006 Comm Games in Melbourne. She was a star, mate. An absolute legend. And I still hold a fairly serious flame for her. She’s gorgeous.”