John Eales: The Biography
ABC Books, $39.95 hb, 360 pp
Australians have always played their sports hard. We who would have given a soft part of our anatomy to have worn the baggy green for Australia love a winner or a victorious team. Our sporting aristocracy has often been characterised by a gimlet-eyed, thin-lipped determination and ruthlessness: Don Bradman is the apotheosis of these champions.
Yet we reserve a special place in our pantheon of sporting heroes for men and women who play stylishly and, more importantly, graciously. These are the ones who transcend their sports and thus raise sporting achievement to a transcendental level, a glimpse of grace and humanity in action. We prize, for these qualities, Betty Cuthbert, Ron Clarke, Cathy Freeman, John Landy, Ian Thorpe and Pat Rafter. They seem somehow to represent the best in us, and to be our best representation of ourselves to the world. John Eales is one of these.