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Loss in Lyon

30 March 2011

I have always enjoyed travelling to Lyon in southern France.  In 2002 I visited many times as I was advising a German company on their acquisition of a French company.  The spectacular scenery and the wonderful food made visiting Lyon enjoyable.

So I was excited to return for the first time in a few years to present to FIBA the world governing body for basketball.  As the chair of Basketball Australia I was headlining Australia’s bid to host the World Championship for Women in 2014. We had received wonderful support from Government at all levels with the Victorian Major Events Corporation key to showing why Melbourne is the best place in the world to host a major sporting event.  Julia Gillard, Patron of basketball in Australia, was a great anchor to our bid video as the first female leader of our nation.

But unfortunately it was a loss in Lyon.  We were beaten in a head to head contest by Turkey.  In a way it always comes down to money and their pockets were deeper than ours.  We are a strong women’s basketball nation.  Our Opals tussle with the USA for top team rights on a regular basis.   So why couldn’t we put up as many dollars as Turkey?  I was excited by their bid – they see the world champs as a way to demonstrate to Turkish women the benefit of participation in sport – as motivation for their women to play a greater role in their society.  If we had to be beaten at least we were beaten by a team with a great social justice role.  So I am looking forward to working out how Australian women’s basketball can help on this path.

The other thing I am looking for is revenge!  Not for the loss of the bid but for the loss of the contents of my suitcase!  Having had my luggage delayed on opening it in the hotel my overcoat, my hair irons and some gifts I had were not longer with me.  So double loss in Lyon!  Won’t stop me going back for more of their wonderful food and shopping.  Those things had not changed about Lyon.