of Sutcliffe's biggest supporters is actor Melissa George, who has agreed
to narrate a documentary about the sport, which Sutcliffe has produced.
two met 15 years ago when George was a top-class competitive inline skater.
saw her again last week in
still quite passionate about it," he said.
got on the skates for the first time for 13 years last week, and I could see
that she's still a skater at heart."
competed in his first world championships at age 20 in
after several world titles and more than a dozen national titles, he's decided
it's time to hang up the skates.
was hoping to win this one as I knew it was going to be the last one,"
guess there has to be a point where you have to say that's it, as it's been 20
years since my first world championships."
has written a book about his career called Rolaboi.
is hoping the doco will raise the sport's profile.
"There is very little recognition, and human spirit drives the sport, so I'm looking closely at that," Sutcliffe said.
my best friend gave me an autobiography as a gift for Christmas three years ago,
my first thought was, ‘I don’t really read much’.
Then, after reading only three chapters, I soon found myself at a desk
enthusiastically tapping away on a keyboard, recounting my own life story.
Not for a second did I envisage having the work published, it was purely
an outlet to find clarity in my life at the time.
provided many answers to unanswered questions I had as a child, and as an adult.
The exploration required to document the past is no easy task.
In fact, it has been a combination of both, pain and passion, whilst at
the same time being overwhelming, and exhilarating.
I soon learnt that my life hasn’t been all roses, not at all.
Sure, there have been highs, extreme mountain tops in fact, yet there
have been considerable lows, lows that have given me guidance and knowledge that
only failure can bring.
I have written about, in essence, is simply an account of my life with no
holding back. Ideally, I wanted to
celebrate the involvement in my sport, what the intensity of competition
beholds, what friendships it creates and what memories it has given me.
That I have done… Yet,
there is another side of my life that beckoned to be told, the untold stories
that remained inner secrets until only I found the courage from writing to deal
with the issues and confront them. In
doing so, I hope that anyone who reads this book, who has encountered events of
any such nature, will also find a strength from within to deal with the issue
and ultimately, find closure, or prevention of such incidents for others.
involvement in a unique and obscure sport, like artistic roller skating, was
never questionable when I first took to wheels.
It was a sport, like any other, and extremely popular at the time, it was
the 80`s after all. Being different, on the other hand, was questionable. Was I,
or wasn’t I different? Who had the answers? And what was so different about
me? That was what I was in search
of, and about to learn, it was what the sport revealed, a side of me, both my
family, and I, had never known or experienced.
surrounded by creative people and the competitive environment of skating, gave
me a dream… a goal, to be the best in the world, a reason to be alive.
There were people around me, including my family, who wanted to see me
achieve that goal, whether I was rebellious, different or otherwise, and with
that support the goal was ultimately achieved.
At the same time, I also learnt, life is a hell of a lot more enjoyable
when dreams are shared with family and friends.
TO MY ROOM
heart was pounding so hard I thought it might explode from my chest.
My palms were sweating. For
a moment, time stood still. Then
the confirmation came through: My dream of becoming World Champion had been
the years of dedication, the trauma of having dealt with the senseless death of
people dear to me, the endless journey to discover who and what I am, I had
finally made it. And yet in some ways, the journey had only just begun…
a child watching Saturday morning cartoons I did what many children do, I
imagined myself as a hero, a champion … a person who could defeat the odds and
win. But when I left the sanctity
of this imaginary world and re-entered the cold harsh reality of the real world,
even as a small child I knew I hadn’t found my niche. I didn’t always fit
in. I was never enthusiastic about
contact or team sports. I always
preferred lying on my bed in my room, drawing various cartoon heroes: Astro
boy, Marine boy, Road Runner and The Herculoids - these
were among my favorites, each for being unique in their own way.
My other love, perhaps my true love at the time, was horses.
I especially loved to draw them. I
fancied that one day I would be a jockey, until I learnt I was going to be too
tall. It was a brutal slap in
the face, my one dream stolen away from me because of something I had no control
over. But like most kids, the
moment passed in an instant and I moved on.
must have been around this time when my interest in ballet started as a mild
fascination with the concept of men in tights. I was intrigued as to how grown males got away with wearing
costumes that were made out of elaborate fabrics and decorated with sequins.
It was an art form that piqued my curiosity – I had to know more.
The graceful movement of ballet seemed very natural to me, so did dancing
around a room with a bunch of girls. But
perhaps more intoxicating was the emotion and intensity. It was like a fairytale brought to life; a fairytale that I
could only dream of becoming a part. But
with three brothers, two of whom were heavily into baseball, you can imagine
ballet was not high on the family approval rating.
Instead I was ushered down to a local park to try out for the junior
baseball team. When the team coach
lined me up to face the ball, I swung and I missed, and missed again.
I was terrified. Needless to say, that was the extent of it.
My brothers used to call me ‘sissy’ all the time, but I tired very
easily of that. As much as my
brothers tried to force a square peg into a round hole, in terms of thrusting
their macho image of what boys should do onto their little brother, it was a
battle they were never going to win.
loathed the idea of playing soccer or football, and finally agreed on the
compromise of tennis. It wasn’t a
terribly popular sport at the time, but I liked the idea of getting a new
racquet and the tennis club was close by so I decided to give it a go.
I took a class once a week for a while, but I wasn’t showing signs of
becoming the next John Newcombe, nor was I enjoying it as much as I thought I
might have. At the same time my
sister, Leanne, was making regular visits to the local roller rink with her high
school girlfriends, Janine and Christine. She
was very popular amongst the lads, vibrant and very flirty.
My older brothers, Tony and Colin, would often go along as escorts
(although I suspect they enjoyed the attention). Tony was a pretty big guy who
was heavily in to weight training, a bit of a
stud, and very popular amongst the girls. Colin,
although smaller than Tony, he was still a ‘one of the boys’ and I would
have never picked a fight with him. I stuck to walking to the corner of our
street to watch them strut off together, wishing it was me going with them.
wasn’t until Christmas 1980, when I was ten years old, that I came upon a pair
of the old strap-on style roller skates by chance.
We were just leaving our cousins home in Warrnambool when I happened to
glance in their garage. The old skates had long ago been abandoned.
They were dilapidated and the bearings had seized, full of rust from
sitting around in the dampness of the garage.
But to me they were a pair of magic shoes.
With some assistance from Leanne, I soon found myself gliding down the
driveway. I begged her to take me
to the rink, but she was somewhat reluctant to include me in her evening
socials, fearing I’d catch her snogging some lad, no doubt.
Instead she conceded to take me down to roll around on Saturday mornings.
It was enough – it was the start.
though the rink was small by any standards, it appeared enormous to me … and I
loved it. My younger brother,
Shane, joined us showing complete fearlessness on wheels and was soon racing
around like a formula one driver. He
is three years younger than I am, so at the time, we were both little horrors on
wheels. The concrete floor was
completely smooth, coated with a urethane finish, not at all like gliding down
the driveway with your sister. It
wasn’t until several hours, and numerous blisters, later that I felt relaxed
enough to embrace the sensation beneath my feet. After that it became religion to go skating on Saturday
afternoons. As fate would have it,
my neighbor, John Hawkins, simultaneously became involved with the artistic side
of the sport. When I watched him
skate I could see this was the closest activity to ballet I was likely to
participate in, and quickly I knew I wanted to live, breathe and sleep skating.
surprisingly, in High School I failed physical education.
I felt so intimidated by the other guys in my class I would regularly
‘forget’ my uniform unless I knew we were doing something where body
movement was involved, such as trampolining or gymnastics.
It was only in these areas of sport I knew I could excel, and in team
sports the larger ‘macho’ boys seemed to think this was a great excuse to
lay into the more ‘slight’ guys at every opportunity that presented itself.
started taking beginners lessons at the roller skating rink with a wild twenty
‘something’ year old who drove a funky Volkswagen beetle.
Her name was Lynda Flint and she soon became the guiding light in my
world. At the tender age of eleven
I quickly developed a burning desire to show her I could do anything she wanted.
Lynda so impressed me with her outrageous personality and unique sense of
style I was determined to win her undivided attention by outshining those who
had been around the rink for some years and demanded the limelight.
long Lynda started to silently acknowledge that I was gathering momentum on
wheels. She promptly encouraged me to join the advanced class, which
was a big step for me (or anyone else joining the class), as I instantly felt
intimidated by the other skaters – who wouldn’t? They all had expensive skates, club tracksuits, they knew one
another and, naturally, they were all better than me. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me! It probably goes without saying that I had a teenage crush on
Lynda. Some days she would arrive
at the rink in her boyfriend’s white TR7 and I used to imagine what it would
be like to be dating her. Occasionally I would have arrived ahead of the class
to wait outside for her. I knew
when I was there to greet her she would let me sit in the car while she unpacked
her gear. She’d always greet me
with a huge smile and a friendly, “Hi Jayse”. Oh how I dreamt of driving
away with her in that car and owning a rink where she could teach me all day
long, all to myself.
soon became an everyday part of life for me.
Even in primary school I would ride my bike to the rink after school to
train and take classes. But as my involvement in roller sports increased, so did
the need for money. I guess it stopped being a hobby when I escalated rapidly and
to the point where new equipment and more lessons were necessary.
My fabulous parents could see how committed I was to the sport, and
thankfully they made sacrifices to ensure I had everything I needed.
I can never truly thank them enough or repay them in full for encouraging
and supporting me, especially as skating is one of the most unrecognized sports
when it comes to any financial returns for being the best.
In fact over time it probably represents the house I have never been able
was every skater's dream to have the best equipment available, especially mine,
but paying more than $300 for a pair of roller skates in those days was
outrageous. My first pair of skates
were a funky blue and yellow suede ‘disco inspired’ style, purchased from a
toy store in Oakleigh. Dare I say
now, they’d be rather cool looking. My
neighbor, and by that time, good friend, John, had a pair of the ultimate,
‘Snyder’ skates, which to me were like gold.
I was so envious of him. But
it was through John I learned about the opportunities to compete at State,
National and International levels. Suddenly
I had my very first real goal in life.
I was going to achieve my childhood dream after all … and be
a world champion!
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