Sport is a story telling machine. When we watch a game, race or competition, there are all the makings of a great tale. There are heroes and villains. There are challenges to overcome. There is a sense of jeopardy and risk. There is triumph and failure, comedy and tragedy. All these elements unfold within the time limit set for a sporting competition. Each games provides an opportunity for adventure, either as a spectator or player.

This capacity to generate a compelling story has helped make sport a national obsession for Australians. Sporting heroes are elevated beyond everyday life. Names such as Bradman and Freeman, or Warne and Barty, come to mean much more than individual examples of sporting greatness. They become part of the social glue which draws Australians together. They help build a sense of community and pride, both at the local level and on the world stage.

Grit and Gold accompanies an exhibition of the same name running from 7 June - 5 Nov, and features outstanding sporting images from the National Library's rich collections.