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"We thought, we'll show them and we will perform well." Because of the political debate, the Australian team didn't know whether they were going to Moscow until an Australian Olympic Federation vote two months before the Games began. "It came over while we were in training camp, 'We're going' and everyone went, 'Yes!' That was like a weight being lifted from our shoulders." An unexpected honour was awaiting Metzker in Moscow.The race came and I did my very best, but of course the fire wasn't there." Burke finished fourth in the 500-metres singles.
"The honour, the pride, didn't really set in until after I'd done it." Metzker counts the bronze medal he won in the 1500-metres freestyle as the highlight of his career.
He smiles often, though his voice is heavy as he remembers his journey to the Sydney Games. Both the Northern Alliance and the Taliban petitioned the International Olympic Committee to allow them to send teams to the Sydney Olympics.
The IOC rejected the Taliban's request and decided the internationally accepted Northern Alliance should send a team representing Afghanistan.
Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser backed the US call for a boycott.
Australian swimmer Max Metzker recalls: "It never really hit home until a couple of months before the Olympics when we thought, 'Uh oh, they're trying to convince us not to go.' " Metzker has the robust look of someone who has spent much of his life in surf club swimming. Sticking your head in the sand is not going to help.