Remember not to enter the pool of death without checking your condom count

It’s reassuring to know that while our politicians muddle over stadiums and venue plans for Brisbane 2032, our real Olympians are in the fast lane for Paris in just four months. Jim Tucker reports

Mar 22, 2024, updated Mar 22, 2024
Former Matildas star Lisa de Vanna. (Image:

Former Matildas star Lisa de Vanna. (Image:

You know when a serious countdown to the Olympics has begun when you hear “The Pool Of Death” roll off the tongue and the condom count for the athletes’ village is revealed.

We’re certainly not talking about Brisbane 2032 because, seriously, some of the pear-shaped non-decisions are giving pears a bad name.

The 2024 edition in Paris can’t come quickly enough to grab the spotlight and divert attention from the Renovation Rescue blueprint stirring high frustration amongst many in Brisbane.

The Paris Olympics open in late July by which time another facilities review might be underway to review Graham Quirk’s original facilities review.

Back to the real Olympics. The “Pool Of Death” line was swiftly used when the draw for the Matildas was revealed this week.

Playing both Germany and the USA in pool play means two heavyweight opponents and an easier game against Morocco or Zambia.

It’s harder to qualify for the Olympic tournament than a World Cup in many team sports. There were 32 teams in Australia and New Zealand for last year’s ground-breaking FIFA Women’s World Cup. Only 12 have made it to Paris.

It’s a tough road to win a medal for the first time in women’s football but Mary Fowler and her teammates will have more chance than Great Britain or Sweden, who both failed to qualify.

Middle distance runner Peter Bol is making his comeback to competition in the weeks ahead after the drug scandal which smeared his name last year was found to be false.

Sex seems to be making a comeback too. Organisers of the Paris Olympics are to distribute 220,000 condoms to participating athletes after unnecessary contact was frowned upon during the Covid-affected Tokyo Olympics.

It equates to around 10 condoms each if you are amongst the 23,000 athletes competing at the Olympics or Paralympics.

You might have needed a whole lot more if the late Wilt Chamberlain had ever been around to play in a US basketball “Dream Team.”

The early NBA superstar claimed to have slept with 20,000 different women.

“At my age that equals about having sex with 1.2 women a day every day since I was 15,” Chamberlain once said.

The rhythm of every March in Brisbane is to be consumed by the early season fortunes of the Brisbane Broncos, Queensland Reds or Brisbane Lions.

The team sports for the Olympics are now starting to emerge from under the radar.

If you regard a team sport as involving at least three or four competitors, Australia was well served at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Two crack women’s relay teams in swimming and the men’s and women’s fours at rowing delivered gold medals. Our eventing team in equestrian and the Kookaburras in men’s hockey won silver.

Bronze medals were won by the men’s swimming relay squads, male and female rowers in the quad scull and the men’s team pursuit in cycling.

Patty Mills and the Boomers also stepped up on the podium for the first time as bronze medallists in basketball. Again, they will generate huge excitement to follow them in Paris.

There are more varied chances again in team sports for 2024, especially from Australia’s champion women’s team in rugby sevens.

They have won tournaments in Dubai and Cape Town this season and will tussle with old foes New Zealand and hosts France for the gold.

Queenslander Charlotte Caslick and Sharni Smale will be stepping up for their third Olympics in rugby sevens.

Few sportswomen get to say they ignited an entire sport. Caslick’s skilful package has done just that because she plays beside young women inspired to take up sevens because of her.

Take Bella Nasser and try-scoring wonder Maddi Levi, the ponytail express. Both are in the sport because of what Caslick and her contemporaries did in 2016 when they dazzled with an Olympic sevens gold in Rio.

Nasser, the daughter of 1991 World Cup Wallaby Brendan, was still at school at Brisbane State High as an impressionable 14-year-old in 2016 when she was watching that golden breakthrough.

Her interest was captured and it certainly helped that Caslick was a former student at her school. There wasn’t even a women’s sevens team set up at State High for Caslick to play in when she came through. That all changed and Nasser was one of the beneficiaries of a now-flourishing school rugby sevens program.

“It’s always an honour to pull on an Australian jersey to play alongside Charlotte. Apart from someone I’ve always looked up to, she’s very willing to pass on her knowledge which might be skills or just being able to watch her composure,” Nasser said.

For sisters Maddi and Teagan Levi, the inspiration came from Caslick as well. Both were schoolgirls at Miami State High, venturing from the Gold Coast to Ballymore, when they met the Australian sevens girls post-Rio.

Ellia Green showed off her gold medal and Caslick gave the eager duo a pair of her Aussie training shorts. The gift helped galvanise Maddi’s ambitions to push ahead with rugby sevens.

It was significant motivation when the Gold Coast Suns desperately wanted to keep the tall, athletic flyer for AFLW.

The air might be poisoned right now by the muddling around stadiums and venue plans in Brisbane but have confidence that the Olympics for our real Olympians is on track.


JIM TUCKER has specialised in sport, the wider impacts and features for most of his 40 years writing in the media. He is the Queensland Reds Communications & Media Manager.


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