Few countries can boast the same level of competitiveness as Australia, especially when it comes to sporting pursuits. This country has consistently produced some of the finest sportsmen and sportswomen the world has ever seen, always pushing the boundaries in their chosen field of expertise and striving to be the best.
We know them for their exceptional sporting prowess and achievements, flying the flag for Australia on the international stage, but what do some of our favourite Australian sporting celebrities get up to in their spare time? Well, asking that question presents us with an ideal opportunity to look at three hugely popular Aussie sporting icons, along with some of their most cherished hobbies and leisure pursuits.
Daniel Ricciardo (Formula 1)
Hailing from Perth in Western Australia, 34-year-old Daniel Ricciardo has enjoyed a lengthy and relatively successful career in Formula 1, achieving 32 podium finishes and 8 race wins. His most prominent campaigns came while driving with Red Bull, reaching third position in the overall F1 World Drivers’ Championship standings in 2014 and 2016.
Once described as the driver who “smiles the most” in Formula 1 by The New York Times, Ricciardo was often seen as the face of Netflix documentary show Drive to Survive, thanks to his typically Aussie wit and charm. But aside from taking risks behind the wheel, Ricciardo also enjoys chancing his hand playing poker.
Due to the growing popularity of online poker in Australia, it’s hardly surprising that Ricciardo likes testing his cunning and skill with the cards, and the racer has often appeared in publicity for leading brands. Nevertheless, he also likens poker to motorsports when it comes to staying in control, suggesting that players must always know their limits and advocating for responsible gambling.
Cathy Freeman (Athletics)
Easily one of the greatest Australian athletes to grace the running track, Kathy Freeman specialised in both the individual and relay 400 metres. Her first gold medal came in the 4x100m relay event at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, where she also became the first Aboriginal gold medallist at the games. But this was just the beginning of an exceptional sporting career.
Freeman achieved numerous gold medal performances at subsequent Commonwealth Games and World Championships, although the crowning glory was undoubtedly at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, winning the 400m final in 49.11 seconds. Much to the delight of the crowd, Freeman enjoyed a victory lap around the stadium track, proudly carrying both the Aboriginal Flag and the Australian national flag.
While she remains a keen follower of sports and advocate for indigenous communities, 50-year-old Freeman still enjoys travelling at high speeds, albeit on four legs instead of her own illustrious limbs, riding horses with friends and family members. This has also led Freeman to take a much greater interest in various equestrian events and activities.
Merv Hughes (Cricket)
Often considered one of the most iconic Aussie cricketers of all time, Merv Hughes was equally famed for the handlebar moustache as he was for his bowling skills, making 53 Test and 33 One Day International appearances for the national team. In fact, such was the prominence of his moustache, the BBC once reported that Hughes insured it for almost $400,000 AUD in value, although he later claimed this was false.
Always regarded as being a larger-than-life personality, both on and off the cricket field, Hughes was also known for his voracious appetite for food and drink, which eventually led to him being overweight at the end of his career. This prompted an appearance on Channel Nine TV show Celebrity Overhaul, eventually losing weight and improving his overall fitness.
Nevertheless, the love of good beer and grilled meats has endured, which is why Merv loves nothing more than a backyard barbie, regularly offering his tips and ideas. Hughes actually released his own book titled BBQ, Beer and BS in 2017, just to demonstrate his appreciation for cracking open the tinnies and slapping steaks around over a hot griddle. And just for laughs, he says the best sauce to accompany his famous moustache is ketchup.