Part of a podcast series

The Wheeler Centre

View all episodes in this series

Gold Rush: Australia's Obsession with Winning

Listen to Gold Rush: Australia's Obsession with Winning

What does it mean to win? Why are so many of us motivated by the prospect of glory? How does our obsession with winning in sport shape our culture and sense of nationhood? And does this obsession spill over into our attitudes towards art, education and our careers?

In this conversation, hosted by broadcaster Francis Leach, we examine the concept of winning from some fresh angles. Leach is joined by artist Abdul Abdullah, whose artwork has broached the intersection of sport and politics, and academic Zali Yager, whose research focuses on body image and doping. Also stepping up to the crease is cricket writer Gideon Haigh, whose new book explores themes of legends and legacy in cricket.

With the panel, consider the toll the obsession with winning can take on individuals, as well as the links between triumph, legacy and the dream of immortality.

Photo of the panellists


Portrait of Abdul Abdullah

Abdul Abdullah

Abdul Abdullah is an artist from Perth, currently based in Sydney, who works across painting, photography, video, installation and performance. As a self described ‘outsider amongst outsiders’, his practice is primarily concerned with the experience of the ‘other’ in society. Abdullah’s projects have engaged with different marginalised minority groups and he is particularly interested in the experience of young Muslims in the contemporary multicultural Australian context. Through these processes and explorations Abdullah extrapolates this outlook to an examination of universal aspects of human nature.  

Portrait of Zali Yager

Zali Yager

Zali Yager is a Senior Lecturer in Health and Physical Education at Victoria University in Melbourne. She is passionate about preparing the next generation of health and PE teachers to inspire health literacy and positive movement experiences for children and young people.

Portrait of Francis Leach

Francis Leach

Francis Leach is a broadcaster and journalist. He co-hosts the breakfast show with David Schwarz on 1116 SEN sports radio in Melbourne and is a regular panellist on ABC TV's The Offsiders and Ten's The Project.

For the last four years Francis was part of the ABC Grandstand team. He is also the creator and co-founder of the Sports Writers Festival which launched in Melbourne in late 2015.

Portrait of Gideon Haigh

Gideon Haigh

Gideon Haigh has been a journalist 32 years, published 32 books and edited seven others.  His latest is book is Stroke of Genius: Victor Trumper and the Shot That Changed Cricket published in 2016 by Penguin Random House.

The Wheeler Centre

Subscribe to the Wheeler Centre's podcast to hear full recordings of our talks – featuring the best in books, writing and ideas.