Grandfathers rally behind Commonwealth Games stars

Thursday, 12th April, 2018

PROUD: Graham Titmus, 88, and Clarence ‘Henry’ Chugg, 76, have been cheering on their respective grandchildren Ariarne Titmus and Jake Birtwhistle at this year's Commonwealth Games. Picture: Scott Gelston

Clarence ‘Henry’ Chugg and Graham Titmus are two very proud grandfathers. 

During the 16 years they have been friends, the Tasmanian men have shared a unique bond over their respective grandchildren – triathlete Jake Birtwhistle and swimmer Ariarne Titmus. 

Following the success of both athletes at this year’s Commonwealth Games, the grandfathers have become local celebrities at the Grindelwald Leisure Garden Estate where they live. 

Mr Titmus said “not even chains could hold him down” as he watched his granddaughter claim her third individual gold on Tuesday night. 

“Everyone was congratulating me after she won the silver for the 200m and I just said wait for the 800m and 400m  – she will kill them,” he said. 

“But I was screaming at the television. It was such a marvelous thing to experience and I am very glad I got to see it.”


Ariarne Titmus after winning the Womens 400m Freestyle Final at the Commonwealth
Games. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England

Titmus, who is now based in Brisbane, ended her Commonwealth campaign with three gold medals and one silver. 

Birtwhistle took home a silver and a gold for the individual and team triathlon events and surprised his grandfather on Monday with a visit to Grindelwald. 

“He turned up at my house with both of his medals,” Mr Chugg said.

“It was just wonderful. I had one around my neck and he had one around his. 

“I just told him how very proud I was of what he has achieved, because I really am. But he did it himself. He has worked incredibly hard.

“It’s one of the best things to happen in my life.”

Australia Commonwealth Games Triathlon XMAS101

Jake Birtwhistle crosses the finish line to win the mixed team relay triathlon. Photo: AP
Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

While neither men said they could take credit for the sporting success, both have passed on their own words of wisdom over the years. 

Mr Chugg recalled an early encounter with a tiger snake when Jake was just nine years old.

“I took him over to have a look and I told him to watch it closely,” he said.  

“But the lesson really was to always keep your eye to the ground and that is exactly what he has done with his triathlons. 

“I think that is one reason he has gotten where he is.”

With both athletes now on the world’s stage, Mr Chugg said he would always get a thrill from seeing his granddaughter in the news. 

“That girl is going places,” he said. 

“But what a thrill for me to see her splashed across the front pages. That’s my girl.”

The Examiner 

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