ACT News


Bobbie's still a champion at 103

If the sport of lawn tennis needs a living advertisement for how good it is for us (and it does, actually, for tennis is in the doldrums in Australia and Canberra's courts are increasingly underused), then Bobbie Miller, 103, is the sport's godsend.

Mrs Miller was one of the 28 centenarians presented on Wednesday with the Centenary Medallion awarded to every Canberran who is already 100 or who, like Canberra, turns 100 this year.

She was once a tennis player of great distinction and is sure, today, that all the tennis she has played must get the credit for how wonderfully sturdy she remains.

It was a privilege to speak to her after Wednesday's terrific occasion at Regatta Point, during which I could tell that we had something in common because both of us jiggled cheerfully along to ukulele player Robyn Archer's bouncy version of the 1953 hit Young at Heart.

You could tell that Mrs Miller and I both knew the song - one of Frank Sinatra's greatest hits - very well.

Later, resisting the urge to ask her to warble the great song (not only tuneful but full of good moral advice about how to live a decent life) with me, I asked her instead about her feelings on her new medallion.


''I think it's absolutely wonderful,'' she said. ''I'm 103, I was born in 1909.

''It's wonderful to be recognised at this stage of one's life, especially in my case when I'm feeling so well.

''I can still walk around on my own. I'm very lucky.

''I think it's because of my tennis career - that's kept me fit.''

Mrs Miller was born in South Africa and has lived in Canberra about 20 years, moving here because her daughter and son had immigrated.

In South Africa and as a youngster she was a tennis champion. She was the country's No. 1 woman player for five years and represented it for many years. She played at Wimbledon in 1927, 1929 and 1938 (she got to the last 16 one year), where she contested not only the singles but doubles and mixed doubles events.

Roger Federer, who she is watching, entranced, deep into the night on TV at this Australian Open, only ever plays in the singles so as not to dissipate his energy.

It would be fun, wouldn't it, if the Open instructed him to also contest the doubles and mixed doubles events.

Mrs Miller is in awe of how hard today's players hit the ball.

''With us, we always placed everything, but today, they hit the ball so hard that [laughing] I wonder how I would have stood up to it!''

Ode to Lance finds a rhyme for 'cheat'

Cycling is so religiously popular in Canberra and so many Canberrans spend so much of their time in lycra one imagines that, among them, there has over the years been enormous hero-worship of Lance Armstrong. Surely, any day now, Canberra's disillusioned and disappointed cyclists will meet to burn effigies of the fraud who has blighted their lives.

While we wait for those ceremonies workmanlike Queanbeyan versemonger John Walker, stoked by indignation, has sent us his Ballad of Lance Armstrong. Here is a trimmed, family-friendly version of it. Walker thinks it unlikely, now, that the hitherto litigious Armstrong will sue him over these sentiments.

The Ballad of Lance Armstrong

"I didn't - it was Dolly," said the Hero known as Lance.

The greatest one in history to win the Tour de France.

He said he was no drug cheat - sued those who said he was!

But now we know he lied and lied, and lied and lied, because …

He knew he couldn't win it without cheating on the rest,

But he'd got his team of lawyers, and at lying they're the best!

His team of fake physicians gave him all that he would need.

A Champion of Champions - the Greatest one indeed!

He said he didn't feel a cheat, 'cause the rest all did it too,

Except of course the honest ones - but they were very few.

But what about those honest ones - did they deserve defeat?

They rode their hearts out, just like Lance - except they didn't cheat.

That yellow jersey should have gone to them to wear with pride,

And THEY should have the honour of that Champs-Elysees ride.

They say that cheats don't prosper, but in his case that's absurd;

Lance Armstrong's still a millionaire - a rich and famous t--d!

Not only just his titles, but every dollar earned

Should be taken from this lying hound, until his lesson's learned.

If sport is to mean anything, it must be fair for all.

You do your best with what you have - or don't do sport at all!

Hate to say it, p'rhaps it's right, what Avery Brundage said:

"If sport becomes professional, it'll kill itself stone dead".

It's sad for all those honest guys whose sporting skills we like,

But for cheaters like Lance Armstrong, we just say - "on yer bike!"