Ian Gainey - My Redan Story
Where did you grow up and can you share with us some of the challenges you faced after contracting polio as a child?
I initially grew up in Numurkah born August 4th 1952 near Shepparton on a mixed farm owned by my parents and in 1954 when I was two years of age I contracted poliomyelitis in both lower limbs and subsequently Mum & Dad sold the farm and moved lock stock and barrel to Belmont Geelong.
My initial schooling began at Belmont Primary School. I can still remember clearly how my school mates used to tease, harass and make life difficult for me hobbling along on walking sticks and callipers on my legs, calling out negative names to me, trying to kick my crutches out from underneath me and making life as difficult as they could for me.
However this type of negativity made me more determined and stubborn to get on with life, study hard, do my homework, and succeed in life.
I then went onto secondary school at Belmont High School and upon achieving Leaving Standard Form 5, I sought employment in Geelong, but to no avail. I then moved to Melbourne in 1972 aged 20, sat a public service exam, was accepted and offered Employment in 1973 with the Defence Department and upon mid to late 2012 after 39 years of full time employment, I was offered a VRP (Voluntary Retrenchment Package) which I took. I therefore ended my employment with one employer and one job in November 2012.
At what age did you set yourself the goal of completing a marathon and how much preparation went into your first one in 1978?
Upon being a fair and reasonable Wheelchair basketballer in mid 1970's and playing for a few years, I believed that I could do something else. I challenged myself to contend with preparing, training, committing myself to do 60-80 kilometres per week for 8-12 weeks prior to my first Marathon in 1978 at 26 years of age.
I stayed overnight at the Ambassador Motel in Frankston and assembled and prepared myself with many other Wheelchair athletes at the starting line (1 Mile bridge) outside Frankston for the journey of 42.195 Kilometres to the City Hall in Swanston Street Melbourne. I clearly remember that my first ever marathon took me 3 Hours and 33 minutes to finish it.
Take us through that first marathon, did it play out the way you had envisaged and how long did it take to recover from?
During the marathon I had to battle winds, rain and fatigue and I said to myself, why the hell are you torturing yourself in this way but upon reaching the final stages of the marathon I was extremely happy, relieved and contented that I could proudly say that I had competed and completed my first 42k marathon in a most satisfactory way.
My recovery time was just a matter of 3-4 weeks' complete rest and I was back to my normal condition after that, enjoying swimming and walking in means of recovering.
In past interviews you’ve stated that you learn training techniques from able-bodies runners, can you give us some examples?
Yes training with able bodied athletes gave me an insight as to their techniques, like fartlek and interval training both on the road and on the 400m Athletics track. Also relaxation and recovery methods, dietary habits and talking about self-confidence.
Tell us about the preparation involved with making the team and the honour of representing your country at the 1984 Paralympics and again in 1988.
In 1980 I had a full time coach, supervising and co-ordinating training, setting training schedules, monitoring fitness levels, and doing a fabulous job, I was very enthusiastic and keen to make the 1980 Paralympic team to Arnhem Netherlands but I missed out on selection.
Without too much disappointment, I kept training very hard for four more years and I gained the honour of representing my country at the proposed 1984 Paralympics in Champaign at the University of Illinois. However to my chagrin and ultimate disappointment, the 1984 Paralympics were cancelled for the very first time ever due to alleged embezzlement of funds and complete disorganisation.
The powers that be had to decide on an alternate venue. Ultimately the 1984 Paralympic team was split in two and some disability groups i.e. Cerebral Palsy, Intellectual disabled and the blind athletes went to New York and all the wheelchair/spinally affected athletes went to the 'Home of Wheelchair Sport' Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury Buckinghamshire in England.
Notably any Americans that attended these substitute Paralympic games shaved their heads in protest and in disgust of the goings on in America. At Stoke Mandeville in England in 1984 I was able to compete hard and I did try my best however I did come across the best athletes in the world and finished 5th and 7th in the world in the two events of the 5,000m and 10,000m.
Two years later in 1986 I was selected again in an Australian team to represent our country at the World Wheelchair Games at Stoke Mandeville in August 86, and I was much fitter, stronger and mentally tough to do better than two years prior. To my amazement and satisfaction, I won the 10,000m (25 laps x 400m) in a World record which was a huge and a significant highlight in my sporting life.
I also kept fit and keen and continued my training to include the 1988 Paralympic games which I was selected for. After waiting for something like eight years, I attended a REAL Paralympic games ceremony with most of the best athletes in the world, a really great time.
Very professionally and well organised and well run Paralympic Games. I really competed very well for myself and my country and I ultimately finished 5th in the world in the 10,000m.
I have been to a little city in Japan, on the island of Kyushu, named Oita. This city called Oita is in the province of Beppu has hosted an invitational meeting named the Oita International wheelchair marathon and a half marathon since 1984. Some 300-400 wheelchair athletes attend this marvellous event every year and in the last week of October and it attracts the very best of athletes from all over the world. I have actually attended this event 15 times, 8 marathons (42 K) and 7 Half marathons (21 K) completed, my very best time for a full Olympic marathon was achieved here completing the course in 1 hour 51 minutes.
Louise Savage obviously competed over much shorter distances but did you compete on any teams together and what was the key to her success?
Let me honestly say Louise Savage was an absolutely naturally gifted athlete, best in the world in her time, achieved many world records and Paralympic gold medals and was a pioneer in her sport.
She was a world-wide acclaimed female wheelchair athlete. I believe she now coaches athletes in NSW helping juniors and aspiring athletes to make the Paralympic games.
In 2000 you were selected to carry the Olympic Torch ahead of the Sydney games, describe the honour and where did you carry the torch?
Prior to the 2000 Sydney Olympic games I applied to carry the Olympic Torch for Australia. Happily, I was selected to carry the Torch outside the Ballarat Town Hall at a cool and wintery day at 6am in June outside the front door of the Ballarat Town Hall in my racing wheelchair.
I carried it up to Target shopping centre (200m) as number one carrier for the day to light another torch carrier and allow him to continue the torch relay to the ultimate stop to Geelong.
Did you have any connection to Redan before becoming involved and what compelled you to do so?
I did not have any connection at all to the Redan Football netball Club prior to a household chat about Redan needing some volunteers. My ultimate connection with Redan FNC was when I was married to the Assistant Head Trainer JP and receiving some advice from the then Head Trainer in 1999 Dougie Stewart.
I was approached by the club ie Jeff Lewis to ask me if i was interested in doing some Timekeeping for the day, so I said okay, I did not know too much about timekeeping at the time however I like challenges and I am as happy as a lark to now be the senior timekeeper of the RNFC and will do so until someone or something stops me from doing this job, I enjoy it, I make a positive contribution and GO LIONS for 2016. So help me God.
What is involved with being a timekeeper and what are the biggest misconceptions of the role and/or the rules.
A timekeeper should be focused, vigilant in his duties, be prepared with a fully operational timeclock, adhere to a running sheet, and witness what the boundary, goal and field umpires are doing at all times.
As well as that agree to any additional demands that club officials may ask you to perform on the day. Some misconceptions or assumptions are who runs the game, why are the quarters so long sometimes and the game on the field are managed by two or three field umpires.
Who are some of the long serving rival timekeepers you’ve forged friendships with over the years?
Over the lengthy period of my timekeeping (17 seasons), I have forged one or two long time friendships, Ian from Sebastopol and North Ballarat, however to be honest, most clubs have timekeepers coming and going on a very regular basis, especially clubs attending away games.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the job?
Timekeeping is a job that takes concentration, challenges are not an option and you have to know what you are doing. You always need to keep your eyes on the field umpires' actions. Rewarding aspects are to see your team win and enjoy most of the day with your accountable fellow timekeeper.
I am happy that we now have an electronic scoreboard being operated from Timekeeping box and we are in line with most of the BFL clubs around the same area.
To have travelled from Werribee for close to 20 years to perform your time keeping duties is a tremendous effort. Fortunately, you’ve witnessed some great sides and six premiership victories. Which matches really stand out during your time in the role?
Over the current 17 seasons of BFL football, my commitment and time to RFNC has been well rewarded to see them win a fabulous six premierships over the years. I can remember every one as a volunteer and timekeeper.
At some seasons end, to see us finishing in third (3 times) and winning the first final game and then winning the Second Semi Final to see us playing off in the Grand Final and winning is a proven plan and it has worked out for us in the past.
Who would be your top Redan players during that time?
Brett Quinlan as player, captain and bench tapping Coach, Dru Quinlan, Kieran Murrihy, Isaac Smith, Nathan Blomeley and Damian and Nathan Horbury.
Tell us about some of the great games you saw Dru played and what made him such a damaging player?
I saw more games that Dru played than his brother Brett however Dru used his brains intelligence body size and bulk to get through packs busting them open.
He was a sure shot for goal holding up many opposition attacks into their offence and assisting his fellow team members in confidence and winning the ultimate object of winning games, getting into finals and winning premierships, and having a bloody good belly laugh afterwards in the Den or the pub.
You haven’t missed too many games over the years but had a good excuse last month. Tell us about how you are coming along after your recent operation.
I do not ever like missing any Redan football matches, however sometimes when it comes to personal health, this comes first.
My health situation is vastly improving from major Bowel cancer surgery, however over the next six months at Sunshine hospital I have to undergo Chemotherapy and then it will be plain sailing to go back to good health again. I am really indebted to the medical industry for looking after me in the short term and the long term and I can only be eternally grateful for that.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to get involved with volunteering at Redan?
A football Club like Redan would never ever survive if it did not have volunteers, like in 1998 when Redan were down on their knees. If it were not for the careful and well planned actions of the life members of the club and Past Players committee, maybe Redan may have not survived.
Let's hope many more volunteers come on board and help out and the current volunteers stay on and we can and we will maintain to be a healthy and sustainable football and netball club.
What advice do you have for the boys and girls starting their football and netball careers at Redan?
Any sportsman or sportswoman can be successful playing any sport they like if they have the commitment, mental application, apply themselves to training both with team members and without.
Maybe doing some private training and more importantly listening and heeding to your coaches and directions from your Captain.
Redan is a great family club, the best club in Australia. Very good application by volunteers, we have had success in the past and will have success in the future, apply yourselves lads and ladies.