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Luke Borreggine – Part 1 (B) of the interview series-by John Rahme

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    Luke Borreggine – Part 1 (B) of the interview series-by John Rahme

    Bruce Walsh known as “CHIEF” was the icon and mentor of Luke borreggine. Bruce called Luke his fourth child, and Luke called Bruce ‘CHIEF’. Bruce was an old school man. He ran a tight ship and was a very well educated man in the sport of weightlifting and strength and conditioning. Bruce ran Burwood PCYC. Bruce introduced Olympic lifting into rugby league and worked with the old wests magpies known now as the wests tigers as a strength and conditioner. Luke calls Bruce Walsh a political mastermind and when Luke talks about Bruce Walsh you can see the respect, loyalty and admiration he has for this man. Bruce’s life was weightlifting and loved to teach and coach. Luke had so many great things to say of this man that I actually felt that I was a poorer man in never having to meet him.

    This bring me to a point where I believe is the beginning of Luke’s life and realisation that weightlifting is and will become his life and Australian weightlifting will become his newborn child whom he will raise,protect,feed,educate and love like no other.

    Sunday afternoon, Luke borreggine is 16/17 years old and is at home with his family. He receives a phone call from Bruce Walsh not asking to see him immediately but summonsing Luke. Luke begins to describe to me his feelings at the time, he says to me, “now when someone calls you at home on a Sunday in my day and wants to see you, there was generally a bad result at the end of the meeting.” Luke makes his way over to see Bruce and his head is travelling at a thousand miles an hour of what it may be about, or what he had done wrong or worse, what was going to happen to him. Bruce greets Luke and sits him down, “Luke” he begins to say, “We feel that you have a lot to offer in the future for weightlifting, not as a lifter but as a coach.” Bruce continues whilst Luke is sitting in a confused but euphoric state, “we have found you to be a man of reliability and trust, the passion and love for lifting seems to just pour out of you.” He finishes off with. “Now f—k off and go home.”

    At the age of 21 years old Luke takes over Burwood PCYC after Australia failed miserably at the 1976 Olympics and we received no gold medals. The Australian government decides to pour some money into Australian sport and weightlifting is one of them and they create the AIS in Canberra. 70%-80% of all the weightlifters were taken from the boys club to Canberra. A gentleman who Luke highly regards called Lyn Jones is taken from the boys club as head coach at AIS. Harry Wardle comes over from England to the boys club to coach and 12-18months later is recruited to go to the AIS. Luke determined not to let what built him and paved the way for him close down takes the reins of the boys club and keeps it going.

    I sit here and I look over 6 full pages of Luke borreggine’s record and coaching statistics, from world championship to commonwealth games to Olympics. I look at his fight for the sport he loves so dearly and admires. His achievements are mind blowing. And so are the stories he can tell. Some of which will stay with me as asked of him, but I do hope one day he does write a book because believe me, your eyes will pop out of your head and you will have fits of laughter and plenty of “ jez, I wish I was there “ scenario.

    I intentionally do not try to disrespect Luke by not documenting all his achievements, all his stations and positions at all, but I try to bring across and describe to you all the beginnings of a man who will go down as one of the greats in weightlifting. With every appointment he had there was a fight for what he believed in and what he was doing. Every appointment brought a new challenge and at times some incredible turns in the road he was travelling. He was made an example of at one point in his career due to the politics in the sport and then was asked to redeem the sport. All of this due to his unbreakable spirit and belief system. You see, I would be lying if I said Luke had no ego. I would be lying if I said that I thought he was the loveliest person in the world. But his ego was derived from a place in his heart where he put the good of the sport and athlete first before himself, a lot of people looked upon this as ego driven. I put this forward for you to contemplate. Luke’s ego gave opportunity and chance to a lot of weightlifters in Australia, he put them in the right position and gave them the right chance at the right moment to make a mark in their life and history, those who were able to take that chance and opportunity were grateful, those who couldn’t were resentful. I ask you to look upon it as how you see it not others with might do.

    I finish off on this, when Luke borreggine was born, god himself or herself physically took out the function in Luke’s body which enable him to take a backward step. Luke physically and mentally has never taken a backward step and couldn’t if his life depended on it. In his belief system he has his idea of what is wrong and what is right; his fight for that belief system is non-negotiable. Loyalty means life to this man. Passion oozes out as sweat and before you got there, Luke was there.

    Interview series-by John Rahme

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