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Mary McMillan (80yrs) and her 50th Bridge to Bridge

Australia’s Mary McMillan is renowned throughout the world of water ski racing for an incredible history in the sport. She has skied all 49 Bridge to Bridge water ski races since 1961, she is now 80 yrs of age and had planned to ski the 50th Bridge to Bridge in November.

Anyone in ski racing, or in any other sport, in any country around the world, will appreciate how special this moment would be for the sport, for the event and for the woman who has done so much for so long in water ski racing.

Unfortunately, the NSW Water Ski Federation in Australia have made an attempt to stop this important occasion from happening in water ski racing, and instead of focusing on the wonderful achievement that could take place by a woman so passionate about the sport, and using this to promote the sport and the event, the committee has chosen to focus upon a negative issue and made an attempt to stop Mary from skiing the Bridge. This has subsequently created uproar in the world of water ski racing which has been voiced across the social media.

In the interests of the sport, I respectfully suggest that the NSW Water Ski Federation approaches Mary (don’t ask her to come to you – go to her), apologises for making an inappropriate decision and put things right by formally inviting Mary to participate in the 50th Bridge to Bridge water ski race.

If there are obstacles to overcome, then overcome them. It is not too late to say “sorry”, swallow some pride and nip this issue in the bud before it goes further. It’s not too late to realise what the right thing is for the sport, and regain the respect of the many competitors that the NSW Water Ski Federation represents.

Committee members …please don’t create more obstacles (that’s easily done with everything) – instead, repair this matter, overcome any obstacles and just do the right thing and do something very positive for the sport by getting the 50th Bridge to Bridge back on track with Mary McMillan on the start line.

Robbie Llewellyn

David McMillan update: 13th Oct 2011

Click here to read original on Facebook
Firstly thanks to everyone for their support it has been overwhelming for our whole family. I want to tell everybody what the situation is at the moment and give an answer to some of things that have been said.

Firstly I agree with Alex that all the slanging that goes on doesn’t help and isn’t a good look for the sport, although either is closed door governing, but Alex people’s passion is also what makes this sport so great and everybody is entitled and should have an opinion and be able to voice it whether they were part of the decision making process or not. That’s why we live in a democracy.

Ken I do agree that maybe it was a Committee decision and not just Jan, but I can assure you that it was not the full Bridge to Bridge Committee’s opinion and I simply stated that the letter came from Jan as President of the NSW Federation – this letter did not come from the Bridge Committee, so the way I look at it we have Wake Boarders, Bare Footers and Tournament Skiers telling us that Mary cannot ski the Bridge to Bridge.

Just to UPDATE everyone on how things have happened so far:-
– Jan Thurgar approached my Grandmother at the SRNSW First Aid Day and had a conversation with her that went along the lines of the Federation not accepting her entry. As you can imagine this upset her very much and actually made her quite sick for a number of weeks.
– I then sent a letter to the Federation and Bridge Committee requesting clarification as to why this conversation took place and under what grounds would our entry be refused.
– Jan responded to me and requested a meeting with myself and Mary, which we were only too happy to attend.
– Then on a number of occasions Jan was unable to attend due to the injury of her shoulder
-Jan then suggested that we meet at Redcliffe leading up to the Worlds or after the completion of the worlds. I was not able to attend prior to the Worlds, as I didn’t arrive until early morning of the Opening Ceremony, so I presumed there would be a meeting once everyone returned home.
-Our Bridge to Bridge Entry was lodged and there has been no further communications until Mary received the letter dated 30th September, 2011 via Registered Post refusing her entry in the 112km Event and stating that “the decision is final and will not be reconsidered”. I am happy to email this letter to anybody that would like a copy.

Mary is a life member of SRA and does not have to pay her membership each year, she signs an Insurance Waiver each year and is not covered by SRA insurance. SRA have no problem with Mary competing anywhere in the Country and they are the ones that give sanctioning to this Race.

I have spoken directly to the person at Waterways who issued the Bridge to Bridge Licence and he has told me that they have no problem with Mary racing and would be happy to work with us to accommodate her being in the race if need be, but the problem is that the Federation are the ones that hold the Licence and make the decisions.

We are happy to start whenever in the Race and stop if we need to get out of the way of Super Class just as we have done in previous years. I would certainly not put any of my family or a fellow competitor in any danger, so I don’t see where the problem lies.

Mary has not deteriorated from last year, she has actually done more skiing and is fitter than she has been for years. The rejection of this Entry not only affects Mary but also the rest of the family, especially Brock who also does not get to ski the Bridge.

It is true that there are Lawyers involved now, along with the Human Rights Commission, but do you really think this is what we want? Mary is an 81 Year Old Pensioner and the Federation obviously must be prepared to use competitor’s funds to fight her.

All of the media outlets are pushing for interviews with Mary, imagine the bad publicity that this could bring on the sport and sponsors of the race – common sense you think should prevail and all of this should be used to promote the good of the sport, just like Mary’s Channel 9 Interview last Friday Night which was the first TV promotion of the Bridge this year.

So I have now joined Facebook and set up an email address so everybody use your energy in a positive way and get behind this quest, by simply sending an email showing your support for Mary to ski the Bridge. It doesn’t have to be long, just ensure that you state your full name on the email and address it to the NSW Water Ski Federation.

By doing this hopefully people power will help get Mary over the line for the 50th Time and once again thanks to everyone for supporting this.

David McMillan

Click the image below to watch a recent news slot which Mary had on Australian TV

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