Pocock's childhood connection

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

David Pocock began to reveal the connection he still has with his childhood home, in the first part of Australian Story: True Grit on Monday night.

Pocock left Zimbabwe as a teenager, along with his parents and younger brothers Mike and Steve, but his experiences in Africa have shaped him ever since, his father Andy says.

Before fleeing Zimbabwe, Pocock recalled some harrowing experiences that ultimately forced his family to move to Australia.

“Given what was happening Dad had installed a big security door in the sleeping area of the house where the rooms were that we locked,” he said.

“I remember being pretty scared, mostly just at night. As a kid, all the different scenarios are going through your mind.

“I remember one time there was a mob of people we could hear in the area coming along the farm roads from a neighbour’s farm.”

That night Pocock, his mother Jane and his two brothers grabbed what they could and headed to the town centre, leaving his father Andy to protect their land, not knowing what would happen.

"We could hear them chanting. We could hear them shouting," Jane said.

"So I just started  screaming to the boys, "Grab, grab what you want to take. Get in the car. We're going."

Andy said the final straw came when a neighbour was ambushed, leaving a bullet-spattered truck in an abandoned farm.

For three young boys, David said it felt like a movie as they stuck their fingers in the holes left behind.

“it really sunk in going into the house a few months later and seeing all the bullet holes along one side of the car and my brothers and I looking at it and putting our fingers in the holes and going, this is like something in a movie,” he said.

Though the final stages were traumatic, Pocock’s parents spoke of David’s passion for nature from a young age and “idyllic” early childhood in Africa.

A young Pocock was obsessed with birds, taking a notebook with different species in and ticking off each one as he saw it.

Part of that childhood was Rugby, a sport which Pocock said he long wanted to excel in, though originally as a Springbok.

After arriving in Brisbane, all three boys adjusted to Australian life in different ways.

For David, he threw himself into training, poring over library books and seeking any way to improve his training.

"That first summer holiday, I would go to the library and just hire out books and do training sessions from them,” he said.

“I had this weird thing that, in my head, I had to do 450 crunches a night or else I was going to get fat or if I didn’t do it I was mentally weak.”

It was when Andy found David still awake late one night, doing hundreds of exercises, that he began to get an inkling this was more than a desire for fitness.

"You get- you reap what you sow," he said.

"And you get extreme.

:So when you go into your boy's room at 11:30 at night and he's doing sit-ups and push-ups, then you know: "OK, this is, this is extreme now."

The second part of Australian Story: True Grit will air on February 29 at 8pm on ABC One.

To watch the full Australian Story: True Grit part one, click here.

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