Elite sportspeople Norma Koplick and Cyril Suthers were part of Ipswich’s memorable Olympic Torch Relay celebration that ignited a city.
Elite sportspeople Norma Koplick and Cyril Suthers were part of Ipswich’s memorable Olympic Torch Relay celebration that ignited a city.

The incredible night Ipswich community celebrated as one

JUST over 20 years ago, Ipswich staged one of its most memorable celebrations - the 2000 Olympic Torch Relay.

It remains a wonderful example of civic pride and teamwork.

A number of the city's leading community figures at the time shared in carrying the torch into Ipswich as part of the relay's 100-day journey through Australian towns and cities.

For many people, it was the closest they would ever come in their lifetime to being involved directly with an Olympic Games.

The relay runners were also part of the massive Spirit of Flame Ipswich Community Celebration at Limestone Park on June 14, 2000.

The celebration that attracted more than 20,000 people featured a multi-cultural parade, our sporting greats, a food fair and mini-Olympics organised by Ipswich Little Athletics life member Ann Bell.


How the QT captured the amazing civic pride on show.
How the QT captured the amazing civic pride on show.

School children lit candles and Indigenous musicians entertained the huge crowd in the lead-up to the historic arrival of the torch.

Paralympian Norma Koplick lit the cauldron to the roar of the Limestone Park crowd.

RAAF Base Amberley contributed with a show of what a real flame looks like - with a spectacular dump and burn from an F-111 over our skies.

Long-serving Mayor Paul Pisasale was chairman of the Ipswich Community Working Group for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Torch Relay.

The relay travelled via Gailes, Goodna, Bellbird Park, Redbank Plains, Blackstone and Silkstone on its way to Bill Paterson Oval at Eastern Heights for the incredible civic celebration.


The Olympic Torch Relay in Ipswich
The Olympic Torch Relay in Ipswich

To help mark the magnificent occasion, the QT ran a special feature profiling everyone who was part of the torch relay over the two days around Ipswich.

Can you remember who the relay runners were at the time?

Here's a reminder:

Dallas Baker (heavily involved in the community for 35 years, through the State Emergency Service and Karalee Community Association);

Greg Bell (a tireless volunteer who worked with children for 25 years and helped restore the rundown QCWA Hall at Walloon);

Daniel Bennett (aged 16 at the time, the Willowbank student was a Met West triathlon winner, heavily involved in surf lifesaving);

Conny Bibby (a Forest Lake College teacher who recovered from a devastating lawn mower accident and had to learn to walk again);

Jennifer Cutler (a humanitarian-minded student living at Eastern Heights who was heavily involved in groups like World Vision, Amnesty International, UNICEF, Community Aid Abroad and the Leukaemia Foundation);

Rick Faulks (born with cystic fibrosis, the Riverview resident was a model of courage helping young people);

Sarah Gray (a Raceview teenager and West Moreton Anglican College student at the time, she was the Heart Foundation Young Australian Ambassador of the Year);

Brenden Harris (the Raceview student cared for his parents who were born with varying degrees of cerebral palsy);

Robert Hoge (an inspirational former Queensland Times journalist who displayed tremendous courage dealing with life's challenges having deformities to his legs and face);


Inspirational journalist Robert Hoge. Picture: David Nielsen
Inspirational journalist Robert Hoge. Picture: David Nielsen

James Holocombe (the Bellbird Park youngster possessed a positive attitude despite being constrained in an electric wheelchair with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy);

Laurie Hull (the North Booval resident served the community in a variety of ways, having served in the Australian Army for more than 20 years);

Norma Koplick (the record-breaking Ipswich and District Athletic Club Paralympic world javelin thrower who lit the cauldron at Limestone Park before later winning a silver medal in Sydney);

Carol Maas (the North Ipswich teenager was born on Goodenough Island in Papua New Guinea, coming to Australia when she was nine. She excelled in athletics and team sports at Ipswich State High School);

Jennifer Marshall (the Bellbird Park resident spent most of her time helping young people, through training and teaching them public speaking to build their confidence);

Darryl Martin (the founding secretary of Life Education in Ipswich who organised a community appeal to rebuild Lifeline Booval after the 1995 fire);

Kristen Murphy (a young teacher from North Ipswich at the time, she contributed greatly to the Ipswich State High School community despite being diagnosed with multiple scleroris);

Clyde Nicoll (a Rosewood man who made a significant contribution to country life, including as a principal of Rosewood State High School);

Lani Nielsen (having risen above a troubled upbringing, she volunteered for several charities, including the Cancer Fund's doorknock appeal and Daffodil Day, and organised a drug-free dance party at The Pulse Youth Centre to help others);

Doug O'Connor (the Brassall senior citizen performed community voluntary work for more than 50 years, dealing with a disability of his own);

Rosemary Park (the Riverview resident was heavily involved in school and sporting groups and contributed to the establishment of the Riverview Community Centre);

Eric Pate (the Redbank Plains resident was involved in Ipswich Little Theatre for many years, also helping teach handicapped children to sing, dance and act);

David Reason (after suffering severe head and chest injuries and put on life support from a motorcycling accident, he fought back to reignite his career as a chef);


One of Norm Rule's proudest moments, carrying the Sydney Olympic torch.
One of Norm Rule's proudest moments, carrying the Sydney Olympic torch.

Norm Rule (the former Australian soccer player and businessman who was a foundation member of various youth groups);

FAREWELL TRIBUTE: Remembering Norm

Gary Sawyer (a popular Ipswich identity who always had a smile on his face telling jokes and working tirelessly for charity despite suffering horrific injuries in a car accident);


Ipswich personality Gary Sawyer
Ipswich personality Gary Sawyer

Cyril Suthers (a former professional cyclist who had a run a stage of the 1956 Olympic Games relay leg);

Betty Utley (a Collingwood Park reason who devoted much of her life to charity work, including St Vincett de Paul in Ipswich and helping the underprivileged);

Christopher Vierveyzer (a Goodna teenager and Bundamba High school captain who was involved in the reconciliation process between young white and Aboriginal people);

Winston White (the Bellbird Park resident served the community for many years through the Goodna Rotary Club and helping re-establish the Jacaranda Festival).

Frances Underwood (the Ipswich Girls' Grammar School student was one of the escort runners, along with Vanessa-Leigh Elmore, Zane Jarvis, Bronwyn Jones, Lauren Jones, Graham Potts, Beth Smith, David Allen, Ivana Bruic, Mitchell Conroy, Jacqui Wardlaw, Sandra Wilson and Amanda Woodley.

Rick Mitchell (the 1980 Moscow Games silver medallist), Leigh Matthews (AFL legend) and Ipswich resident Dr Hilda des Arts were chosen as sponsor runners