Australia's national religion may be sport, but our versions of nationalism are much less strident than those existing in other parts of the world. Like many others was dubious about the rapidly approaching Olympic juggernaut which had a bit too much religious fervour about it to win favour with the masses down under.

I was actually an Olympic cynic right up until the opening ceremony. The months leading up to the games had seemed to consist of one bungle after another with train crashes, ticketing errors and nepotism seeming to be the order of the day.

However the faithful kept plugging away and at the eleventh hour the sight of Cathy Freeman lighting the flame woke something in many Australians, myself included.

By day 17 I was at the barrier for the last event - the men's marathon and then clapping, crying and cheering through the four hour closing ceremony - a celebration of "Australian-ness". Hey - this is a pretty special place!

Image from