On a Saturday night in October of last year, Australian footballer Jason McCartney was out for a night on the town with friends visiting Bali night spots, unaware that heartless cowards lay in wait. The horrendous bomb blasts that followed claimed the lives of 202 people, among them many fellow footballers and friends on holiday together in Bali.
Jason McCartney suffered shrapnel wounds and disfiguring burns over much of his body. Evacuated on one of the first emergency flights to nearby Darwin, from there he was flown by helicopter to Melbourne and admitted to the intensive care unit of a Victoria hospital. His wounds were so extensive that he was unrecognizable to his own father waiting there for his return.
Surgeries, a course of expert rehabilitation, and Jason's indefatigable spirit enabled his triumphant return to the football pitch on Friday, June 6th playing for the Kangaroos against Richmond, wearing number 88 on his back and the number 202 over his heart in memory of the 202 people who lost their lives in the Bali blast.
Prior to Friday night's game the lights of the stadium were dimmed and names of all the Australians who died in Bali were displayed on a large video screen as members of the several football clubs who lost members gathered on a stage erected on the football grounds.
Who won the match? Does it really matter? In the final scheme of things Jason emerged as the real champ.
As one observer commented, Jason refused "to let the bastards beat him." You can be sure he wasn't talking about the Richmond Football Club.
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