"It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles. Or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement. And at worst, If he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
President Theodore Roosevelt, "The Man in the Arena", Paris, 1910
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There's a term for people who embody the qualities of honesty, determination and hard work that Australians admire most: True Blue. To be a true blue Aussie it also doesn't hurt if you've had to struggle against the odds, and especially against unreasonable odds.
His friends call him 'True Blue' and if any of the current crop of Australian pros making a living in Europe deserve to be hailed this way, Cyclingnews diarist Scott Sunderland surely does.
Scott was born in Inverell, a country town in northern New South Wales. Inverell is in a silver and sapphire mining area, but the town's main economic engine is the beef industry. It's a cliché that in Australian country towns kids grow up tough but honest and not afraid of hard work, but it's certainly true of Scott who worked double shifts in the Inverell abattoirs to fund his early European racing career.
Scott is currently Australia's longest serving professional cyclist and has a depth of experience in racing that few in the European peloton can match. He has placed highly in many of the cycling world's greatest events, and is a well respected rider.
He has had more than his fair share of injuries and setbacks, the most memorable being when he was struck by a car driven by his former director, Cees Priem, during the 1998 Amstel Gold race. Although the ramifications of that are still being overcome, he has recovered and the last 18 months have seen a resurgent Scott Sunderland.
After that accident, Scott's doctors thought he might never ride again, and since returning to riding he has been, as his wife Sabine puts it "200 per cent focused." His win earlier this year in the GP Pino Cerami one of his favourite races showed that the old Sunderland strength is still there. And when things do go wrong, as in this year's Amstel Gold, he's philosophical. "That's bike racing."
Unusually, Scott's diaries are written from a range of perspectives. His wife Sabine steps in from time to time, as in this view from the 'women's room', and his friend, journalist Neil Storey, earns his room and board in the Sunderland household by helping out with insightful views from the roadside.
Scott says he intends to carry on for another three years, till 2004. He's enjoying helping the Fakta team develop and passing his knowledge along to younger riders, but he thinks by the time he hits 38, he'll "be done with it". Until that far-off day, we hope that you enjoy the regular updates of the man from Inverell and Zottegem.
coaching session, Inverell
Club championship ribbons
NSW 50 km points score champion, 1985
Winning the 1986 Kooralbyn Classic
Riding for Lotto in the 1996 Tour de France
Teeth gritted in the 1996 Tour ITT
Riding the Paris-Nice for Gan in 1997
The 1997 Gan Anglophone posse
The final time trial in the 1999 Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic
2000: on the Mur of Geraardsbergen, Omloop Het Volk
Scott's official Team Fakta postcard
2001: Sweet victory in the GP Pino Cerami
Born: November 29, 1966, Inverell, NSW, Australia
1973: Started racing at 7 years of age, as a member
of a cycling family -- father and four brothers all raced
1996: Birth of son Saën: "the start of a lot more happy days."
1998: Accident in Amstel Gold. "The start of the darkest period in my cycling career."
1999: Victory in Vuelta a Castilla-Léon. "The sign for me that all was going to be okay after all."
1976: National Championships, Road Race (amateur)
Up close and personal
"As a teenager, and still today, it has always been my dream to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games. Probably because in sport, and more particular in cycling, these seem to be the most important events in the eyes of the Australian Public together with the Tour de France.
"As a little boy riding my bike, I was imagining being a World Champion; and I haven't given up on that dream yet. The pink or yellow jersey of the three big tours have never really appealed to me as much as that Rainbow Jersey a World Champion gets to wear all year."