The skinny kid who became a Games champion 

The skinny kid who became a Games champion 

He was bullied as a skinny runner in a southern Sydney high school where rugby league was king. Now he straddles the athletics world looking like a Greek god. 

Ollie Hoare, the first Trinitarian runner to win a Commonwealth Games individual gold medal, has told how a change of school helped change his life. 

His 1500m triumph in 2022 was one of the great races of all time, capping a glorious week in Birmingham in August when two other Old Boys shot to prominence. Sam Fricker won a diving bronze medal and Rohan Browning reached the 100m final, finishing just six hundredths of a second outside a medal. 

It wasn’t just the scale of achievement that set Ollie Hoare’s performance apart – though he did run down two world champions in the final straight, smashed the Games record, lopped two and a half seconds off his personal best, and joined the great Herb Elliott as Australia’s only winner of the event. 

It was the manner of it, and what it represented. He dedicated it to his grandfather, who had followed his career and recorded all of his times with an ancient stopwatch, who had died the previous week and whose funeral he had to miss. 

His performance, and what he said about it, spoke to all boys who have been picked on, whose self-belief has wavered, whose confidence has been shaken. In other words, probably to everyone. 

“I got bullied for being a skinny boy that runs,” Ollie said later. 

“I wasn’t a rugby league player or anything like that, so I got it a bit tough, especially in the area I was in. But then I was fortunate enough to go to Trinity Grammar.” 

Training under former Director of Athletics, Andrew Murphy, now an elite coach with Athletics Australia, he went on to win the Australian under-20 cross country title aged 17. He won a scholarship to study economics at the University of Wisconsin, then stayed in the US to train in Colorado. He reached the 1500m final at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 but couldn’t repeat that effort at the world titles in Oregon just before the Commonwealth Games. He had to overcome that disappointment, and his grief, to scale the heights to come. 

Hoare wept openly on the track after breasting the line in Birmingham; back at home in Sydney it was a similar scene for his parents Greg and Kate, who also wept with joy. 

Ollie said his grandfather, Sergeant Fred Hoare, 96, was a WWII veteran, life member of the Sutherland Athletics Club, and a “big inspiration” to his dad Greg and himself. 

“He always had the same stopwatch; it was about 100 years old, and he would not trust the timer, he would only go off the stopwatch. My PBs were all on his stopwatch,” he said.  

“He was the reason my dad loves the sport, the reason why I love the sport. It kind of hit me, I hadn’t been home and was unable to attend his funeral.”  

He said he could image his pop “up there having a glass of red wine, and saying, ‘I knew you could do it, mate, but unfortunately, I wasn’t around to see it’.” 

Hoare said he had to be patient and back himself in the face of “guys of absolute class” such as world champion Jake Wightman of Scotland and 2019 champion Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya. 

Veteran commentator Bruce McAvaney described his performance as “just magical.” 

“It’s what you dream about. That last 100m was the stuff of legends. 

“It was the moment of the Games, the gutsiest performance I have ever seen. 

“It’s one of the great 1500 metre races at any event – Olympic, world or Commonwealth Games. We are tingling.” 





Oliver Hoare (2015) 

2022 Birmingham, 1500m 

Prashanth Sellathurai (2005)

2010 New Delhi, gymnastics team event and pommel horse

Joel Milburn (2004) 

2010 New Delhi, 4 x 400 metres relay 



Prashanth Sellathurai (2005)

2006 Melbourne, gymnastics team event and pommel horse

Luke Adams (1994) 

2002 Manchester, 20 km walk 

2006 Melbourne, 20 km walk 

2010 New Delhi, 20 km walk 



Sam Fricker (2020)

2022 Birmingham, 3m springboard synchro

Prashanth Sellathurai (2005)

2010 New Delhi, gymnastics parallel bars 

Steven Barnett (1995) 

2002 Manchester, 1m springboard 

2006 Melbourne, 1m springboard 

2006 Melbourne, 3m springboard 

2006 Melbourne, 3m springboard synchro 


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