Craig Cooper: Olympic car park antics

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He was down to his jocks, hopping around on one foot, so I didn't let my look linger.

I nudged my wife.

She looked over, and let out a short, quiet "ooh" before also averting her gaze.

The half-naked man smiled and said something like "hi guys" or "how you goin" and didn't appear too fazed. Neither were we.

We were in the ASB Stadium carpark, heading into the Northland Sports Awards.

In the broad daylight, one of the award-goers was getting changed into his "number ones".

I joked to my wife "it's probably one of the Olympians". I had no idea who it was.

I also had a quiet chuckle because I've done the carpark change myself before award ceremonies, and a wedding for that matter.

There's no point in driving for several hours in your "number ones" on a hot Northland day - chuck 'em on when you get there and if there's nowhere to get changed why not use your car door as a discrete shield.

An hour or so later when Olympian Blair Tuke told the crowd at the Konica Minolta Northland Sports Awards "I'm pretty much living out of my car at the moment" the penny dropped.

Tuke was the one we'd interrupted in his jocks in the carpark.

The sports awards this year had a strong Olympic flavour - and all of the Northland Olympians that the crowd listened to on Friday exhibited the x-factor and commitment to hard work that makes them different from the rest of us.

But there was also something special about realising how refreshingly down-to-earth they were.

Tuke told the crowd on Friday he was a very proud Northlander. The crowd were proud to know him, even if it was from afar, as we watched him onstage.

And he might be a medal-winning Olympian, but he's still a down-to-earth Northlander not afraid to whip his pants off in a public car-park. There's something special about that.

- Northern Advocate

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