Bronte Halligan was just eight years old when she turned to her mum and made a solemn pledge. "We were watching Athens (2004) and I told her I'd be the child to take her there (to an Olympics)," Bronte explained. "I didn't know what water polo was back then and didn't know it was an Olympic sport when I started playing it. I've always been obsessed with the Olympics. To be part of it is really awesome."
Bronte, the daughter of former New Zealand rugby league international Darryl Halligan, thought the Olympic journey would begin at Rio 2016, but it wasn't to be. She was devastatingly left out of the team at the last minute. "It was the first time I'd ever been cut from a team. To be cut on the biggest stage was hard to take," the 24-year-old said. "It was disappointing but I wouldn't change it. I learnt a lot about myself and it reaffirmed (making the Olympics) was definitely what I wanted in life."
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Bronte, who still lives at Manly, is one of four former players from the Sydney Northern Beaches Breakers club to make the Aussie squad. Hannah Buckling, Tilly Kearns, Lea Yanitsas alsospent their formative yearsat the club. "The Breakers were the springboard to my Olympic dream. We have so many alumni and coaches who inspired us to get where we are," Bronte said.
Kearns, whose father Phil played 67 Tests for the Wallabies, added: "The Breakers are the reason I fell in love with water polo. I am so proud to represent such a deserving club in Tokyo."
A-list coaching staff
It's not every day a 196cm fast bowler with 309 Test wickets to his name knocks on your door looking for a tub. But that's exactly whathappened three years ago when Morne Morkel stumbled across the Manly Cricket Club, politely asking some players whether he could use the showers at Manly Oval after finishing a long run. The affable South African has been there ever since and made things official this week when he signed on as the club's assistant coach under head coach Roy Vumbaca. He will join former Australian spinner Steve O'Keefe, club greats Tim Cruickshank, Sam Mesite, Ahillen Beadle, Cameron Merchant and Richard Fry and fielding guru Dave "Loz" Gardiner on the coaching staff.
"I have been blown away by what I have seen at this club over the last few years," Morkel said.
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"One of my favourite days last season was the final day of the second grade grand final at Manly Oval. To see the passion and pride on display that day convinced me that I want to play a further part in the club.
"Coaching is something I am very passionate about and both Roy and I are excited by what the season will bring."
Morkel told Inside Back he was especially excited to work with the many talented fast bowlers across the club. He will also be available to play for the first grade side when outside commitments allow.
Jack's a real ace
Honestly, we're not trying to take any credit here at Inside Back, but just four days after appearing on this very page, eight-year-old golf sensation Jack Castle carded his first hole-in-one. Teeing off at the 70m 1a hole in Bayview Golf Club's Sunday competition, the Year 2 student used a pitching iron to hit his shot straight and true. He looked on in disbelief as it landed on the green and disappeared in the hole.
Jack told us: "I was initially in shock and was just looking at the hole. Then I realised it went in and I was jumping with excitement. There were a few people around who also saw it and were yelling with excitement."
He now hopes to earn a spot on the club's prestigious hole-in-one honour board.
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