Aussies finish down under in their native sport
It's tempting to say that the Australians had their own sport backfire on them two weeks ago. The World Boomerang Championships, held in Perth, Australia, turned out to be an all-American affair, as the U.S. took the top three spots in the individual competition and two American teams finished one-two in the team championships. The highest individual finish by an Australian was 13th, and as a team, the Aussies were fourth.
But, in truth, the U.S. has long been the dominant force in competitive boomeranging. Since 1981, when they defeated Australia in the first Boomerang Challenge Cup, the Americans have consistently outhurled the rest of the world, winning the past three team and individual world titles. "We ran into a lot of Australians who kept asking us, 'What's the matter with the Aussies? How come we can't win at our own game?' " says John Koehler, this year's individual champion.
Koehler, a 33-year-old art director from Poolesville, Md., won the title by accumulating the most points in five individual events: fast catch, time aloft, trick catching, doubling (two at once) and Aussie round, which combines distance, accuracy and catching. Says Koehler, "One reason that the U.S. has become so dominant is that the motion of throwing is ingrained in us."
The rest of the world is catching up, though. Germany has had particularly strong showings the past few years, and the Japanese have improved dramatically. There is also a growing realization that the heritage of the boomerang may not be the sole property of the Australians. Although it is popularly assumed that tribal Aboriginals invented the boomerang for use as a weapon some 14,000 years ago, ancient boomerangs have been discovered in Egypt, Poland, Brazil and, interestingly enough, Florida. Perhaps the U.S. victory last week was just a way for the boomerang to come home.