A raw and honest account about the tensions, contradictions and passions of aspiring to become an elite athlete. Nadine’s story is a personal depiction of her journey and how she made sense of it all to become a happy, well balanced exceptional human being. A great read.
– Deidre Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, Macquarie University Sport and Recreation
Get ready to leap out of your seat, shed a tear, giggle stupidly, and punch the air.
This story will take you on a unique journey through the world of elite sport. Nadine’s
journey should be essential reading for anyone contemplating life as an elite sportsperson.
Nadine wasn’t one of Australia’s fastest or most successful swimmers, but she just might be one of the most courageous.
– Duncan Armstrong, Olympian, Sports Presenter
feature article by Nadine in the Sydney Morning Herald (also appeared in The Sun Herald and the Brisbane Times)
eNews 41 feature on Wobbles as IP Picks Best Creative Non-fiction winner, 2009
eNews 43 interview with Nadine Neumann about her book and experiences as an Olympian
“You can push me out the window; I’ll just get back up”
– “Can’t Keep Me Down”, Pink
Sunsets over the sea are bad luck. They are so beautiful – rainbow-coloured sparks jump off the water and dive into your eyes, imprinting the image so brightly that you cannot forget the moment. But all those little sunset sparkles started off sunsets all over my life, and before I knew it, those flying embers had turned to raging fires that burned everything in my world to dust.
In April 1989, at the Perth National Age Championships, holding Sean’s hand as we walked along the powdery white Scarborough Beach sand, watching the sun turn the ocean to gold, everything began to burn. We kissed – real kisses like in the movies. I was a goddess at the top of the world; a teenage goddess oblivious to the spot fires brewing.
The first one started with Sean. He kissed me, then dumped me. Burn! He liked Megan more than me again and I wondered if it had anything to do with my kissing. Was it possible that she was better at that too? I was getting to the point where I liked her more than me as well. Actually, I liked everything about her life more than mine, especially on the last night of Nationals, when she got to go to the swimmers’ disco. It was at Scarborough surf-club and my parents wouldn’t let me go and celebrate with every other age-group swimmer in the country… but Megan could… and Sean could… and Jess could…
I got to stay back and find my own fun at the crappy hotel where all the Ryde Swimming Club families had spent the last week eating, sleeping, relaxing between race days. Lucky me. The hotel was like an echo chamber with a small rockery, a wading pool and miniature waterslide in the middle of a courtyard surrounded by three floors of rooms. I wasn’t the only one who didn’t go to the disco, but all the cool people went, and I wanted to be with them.
Even most of the parents went to the pub for their version of a party after the week-long competition, but not mine. God, I was so embarrassed that they couldn’t even make an effort to mingle with the right people. Parents never understand how painful it is when yours are the parents who ‘don’t drink’ and are the ones who hang around to ‘keep an eye on the kids’.
So, I couldn’t even run amok at the hotel because I was scared of getting busted. Try being bad without being really bad – we sniffed pepper, I don’t know why exactly, but at the time it seemed wild and reckless, but all it achieved were fiery, weeping eyes, a nose in fits and a throat that scolded. Most of my evening was spent with my head upside-down under a tap to wash the pepper out and wishing Sean was there; then at least I’d have a chance of convincing him to kiss me again.
When the cool kids eventually did come back to the hotel with all the gossip, I tried not to look jealous and made out as though the few nerds who had stayed behind had had an awesome time. When the popular parents got back from their night out, they were suitably jolly and I thought that was so cool… at first, anyway. It wasn’t long before the second sunset spot fire ignited though.
The tipsy mums squealed a shrill echo that spun around and around the concrete walls, woke everyone up and brought an audience to the balconies for a real show. The drunken dads decided to go play in the courtyard splash-pool, and watching them dance around in the water, Megan’s dad included, was like watching a car accident. Somewhere in my mind I was embarrassed for Megan and that bad-luck sunset burned my desire to have her life. Un-drunk parents weren’t so bad after all.
What a way to end the Perth Age Nationals.
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