AIS Sports Draft
AIS sports Draft
Canberra Times journalist David Polkinghorne is put through a boxing test by Christos Argus. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
It seems my best chance of winning an Olympic gold medal in boxing will come from bribing a dodgy referee.
I joined the 28 hopefuls at Canberra's AIS Sports Draft on Sunday and underwent a range of physical tests as part of our nation's search for the next batch of combat sports stars.
With 53 gold up for grabs in boxing and judo at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, Australia has decided this is an area we need to get better in if we want to have a chance of staying in the top five at the Games.
My boss decided I was the most likely to make the podium in three years' time.
At first it might seem a poor choice, given I'm 40 and overweight, but compared with the rest of the sports department I clearly had the best genetics. Sharing a name with a two-time Hawthorn premiership player and a face with Manly's Glenn Stewart, none of my colleagues can come close.
So at 10am on Sunday I fronted up at the AIS knowing glory was just 90 minutes of testing away.
But it seems age wasn't my only problem - a poor vertical jump, a lack of upper body and core strength, slow 20-metre sprint and no endurance were also holding me back.
My best work was done in the ring, where some ''pent-up anger'' - probably directed at my reluctant colleagues - helped me rattle off some pretty impressive four-punch combinations.
It was almost as inspirational as Bryce Courtenay's best-selling novel The Power of One.
My stint of judo was slightly less successful, ending up with a muscle strain in my back from trying to throw ACT junior champ Patrick Hill over my shoulder.
Having crunched the numbers, AIS senior sports scientist David Martin felt that opening a savings account was my best chance of winning gold.
''The thing about some combat sports is you can buy medals at these, historically, and if we went for the politics we might be able to get you a medal,'' Martin joked.
''I don't know if physically you're up for the challenge right now, which might be a blow to you.
''You didn't do too badly in a couple of the tests … and I was actually really impressed at how you handled yourself in the ring, and that's a big part of what we're doing … looking for character and interest, desire and aptitude for these new sports.''
The AIS Sports Draft is in its infancy, having been only to Perth and Canberra, with the roadshow moving to Bendigo and Melbourne early next month. From the 28 Canberrans, Martin was hoping to find two who ticked all the boxes.
The vertical leap and 20-metre sprint were designed to test for leg power, while a bizarre test of core strength felt like I'd snap in half.
I had to bend over and roll a little wheel out as far as I could, before rolling back to a standing position.
Then I had to do some hopscotch to test whether I could float like a butterfly. The sting like a bee testing was done with a minute's push-ups and medicine ball throwing, before the dreaded beep test.
Unfortunately, my numbers didn't stack up, but with just three days' notice to prepare, it probably wasn't surprising.