Norman the torch-bearer

Greg Norman carried the Olympic Torch across Sydney Bridge and the case for "Golf in the Olympics"

Martin Park
Mon, 18 Sep 2000

Norman the torch-bearer

Thousands of spectators witnessed two-time Open Champion Greg Norman carry the Olympic Torch across the Sydney harbour bridge, a journey of an average par four, but with over 2000 people in the way as hazards!

Many fans broke through barricades to run with Norman and the Australian police had to close the entire bridge for 40 minutes instead of just the two lanes originally planned.

But Norman loved the entire journey and was overwhelmed by the reaction of the fans when he appeared with the torch.

"Everybody had a smile on their face," Said Norman. "I'm really rejuvenated. I never anticipated the crowds, I was caught by surprise."

But the man who is used to playing in the pressure cooker atmosphere in major golf tournaments was used to big crowds…but not like this one.

"Fortunately for us, we've been in a lot of situations where we have to control our emotions and nerves, but in a situation like that -- that you've never been in before -- you really don't know how to react or what to expect,"

"It takes you a beat, you've almost got to back out of it a little bit, slow yourself down to appreciate and accept it all. At the end of the day, there is nothing like it in the world. To feel the emotions of the people was just incredible."

"All of a sudden a bus stops, the bus driver gets out with his camera and starts taking photographs and holds up the whole line of traffic. It has kind of lifted this country up, not that we needed a lift, it's lifted this country up in a huge way.

"It really is just indicative of the spirit of what's going on here. I made the comment when we were driving back that when you see that many people with a smile on their face then we must be doing something right."

Karrie Webb, the No. 1-ranked female golfer in the world; tennis star Patrick Rafter and singer Olivia Newton-John, who will perform at the opening ceremony, were among the other torch bearers during the trip in Sydney.

Norman is a strong advocate of making golf an Olympic sport, sometimes to the chagrin of his competitors and various Tour officials.

Golf was played in the Games of 1900 and 1904 before being omitted from 1908 onwards.

"I think if we just keep talking about it, keep getting the message out there that golf is truly a global sport", said Norman. "It is played right across every race, every ethnic, male, female, young, old, people from three-years-old up to 100-plus play the game of golf," he added.

"So we have the cross section to have it taken a look at seriously again in the Olympic Games. I can understand the logistics why (it would be difficult to add it) but I think golf is such a popular sport on a global basis, it should be."

What's your view?

Should Golf have a place in the Olympics or shall we leave it with the four majors to decide who the best player is in the Worlds eyes?