Lydia Williams - Grassroots to Greatness

Submitted by admin on Fri, 07/10/2020 - 11:17
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Lydia Williams - Grassroots to Greatness - By The White Line
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From playing football barefoot in the red dirt of the Western Australian outback to overcoming the heartbreak of losing her dad, Lydia Williams has come to be known as more than just Australia’s first-string goalkeeper.

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Although her skills on the pitch are up there with the world’s best, it’s her humility, tenacity and resilience that have led to the reluctant role model becoming one of Australia’s greatest inspirations, for both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous community alike.

Lydia Grace Yilkari Williams’ story began in the rural desert town of Katanning, Western Australia. 

 

Her father, Ron, of the Noongar mob, was an Indigenous tribal elder and her mum, Diana, took a sabbatical from a demanding life working on Wall Street, to travel across the Gibson desert as a Christian missionary.

A five-month long romance ensued, with Diana eventually returning to the US, but the pair kept in contact via letters, which is how Ron proposed.

Diana returned to Australia to marry Ron. They spent their honeymoon in a cave and shortly after, Lydia was born. 

The family lived in Katanning while she was a toddler, before moving 700 km to Kalgoorlie.

The formative years of Williams’ life were spent in Kalgoorlie but involved a lot of travelling. 

She spent her days going to school, hunting and learning how to live off the land, but was also home-schooled by her mum in the back of a converted four-wheel drive and camper trailer.

Her mum and dad continued to travel together as missionaries to the remote towns of the Gibson desert, helping the communities recover from poverty, domestic violence and culture of heavy drinking.

“Once a year, we’d pack up our four-wheel drive and camper trailer and go out bush,” Williams explained.


“Dad ripped up the whole inside of the four-wheel drive and put in a bed and a giant drum of fresh water along with all of our cooking and swag stuff. It was really homely.”

“Mum would collect homework from my school, and in the mornings, we’d do schoolwork together in the back, then once we got to camp or to a community, we’d put out the swag and set up."

Williams spent her childhood as a free spirit, setting up camp wherever the missions took her and making friends along the way.

“We’d bring my dog along and I’d play with the other kids in the community. We’d ride bikes, go yabbying and run around the desert barefoot playing AFL.

“I always felt safe growing up as a kid in the bush, it was home” she recalled.

Williams would spend her days exploring and connecting with the land and in the evening, would go hunting with her dad.

During one of their hunts, the pair came across an orphaned kangaroo joey and rock wallaby, and being a lover of animals, the then four-year-old adopted the two marsupials who she named Chambi and Rocky.

 

“Both of their mothers were hit by cars,” Williams explained.

“We checked the pouches for joeys, which they had, so we brought them home to take care of them.

“One of the things I was encouraged to do from a young age was learn a bit of responsibility, so it became my job to feed them and take care of them. I even made them pouches for them out of pillowcases.”

Williams’ chance encounter with Chambi and Rocky set the tone for the rest of her childhood, which plays out in her children’s book, SAVED!!!

“Being on my own, I always had to make my own fun,” she shared.

“I didn't really have many friends because I was always traveling, so the animals became my friends.

“I felt really connected to them because they also represented freedom and being one with the land.”

 

She recalled telling her mum that one day she wanted to become a “doggy doctor,” something which she achieved, in a roundabout way, as she is not only a professional sportswoman, but a qualified zookeeper.

When she was 11, Williams’ family moved from Western Australia to Canberra after her mum got a new job. The move to a big city was a massive adjustment for the shy youngster.

“Not knowing anything and not having friends was really hard and scary,” she said.

“I spoke in an Aboriginal dialect when I was in Kalgoorlie and obviously in Canberra there wasn't really any sort of place for me to do that… and I had to wear shoes,” she laughed.

There was no option to play AFL in Canberra, so instead, Williams took up football. She joined the Tuggeranong Rosellas where goalkeeper was the only position left.

She figured her AFL skills would transfer well to the role, but the competitiveness of the game was something she hadn't experienced before.

“I started playing football in Canberra, but everything was a little bit more competitive, you weren’t just playing for fun like you did back home," she said.

“You had to join a team and get a name for yourself, there was a lot of extra pressure."

But the challenge didn’t deter her. Williams took to the position quite naturally and it wasn’t long before her talent became evident.

She found herself a goalkeeper coach at 13 and started playing in the ACT development team, then at 15 was picked up by National Goalkeeping Coach, Paul Jones.

 

She was selected for the Young Matildas where she played for four years before making her senior National Team debut at 17.

Her rise to the top may have come as a surprise to the youngster who found herself in goal by chance, but not to her dad. 

He would tell anyone and everyone how proud he was of his daughter, until he tragically passed away from cancer before he was able to see Williams make her Matildas debut.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This is my dad. He was born in Albany, Western Australia. Our mob is Noongar. He was raised by his grandparents and many of his family members became part of the stolen generation. When the police came into town my great granpop would hide him so he wouldn’t be taken. ••• ••• My dad passed away when I was 15, he would’ve turned 80 this week. Maybe it’s because of the grief of losing a parent or the way in which they pass, that you only remember the good times and replay the moments of joy. But with what is happening in the world I now remember the times in which there was sadness too. Like when we would walk streets together and racist words were thrown at him by passers by. Or when he had to explain to me about why he would get short changed at shops. Or when the comment “that’s your dad?” would be said to me when he would pick me up. ••• ••• I’m only speaking from my experiences in my family. This time of isolation has allowed me to reconnect to my culture, learn and ask more questions about dad. So to all those deadly mob please keep educating me and increasing my knowledge also🖤💛❤️ ••• Happy Birthday dad

A post shared by Lydia Williams (@lydsaussie13) on


“Whenever he would watch Cathy Freeman or other sporting heroes, dad always said that one day I'd represent Australia.

“At the time, he didn't know when or where or what sport, but he just had this belief in me and I’ve actually only been hearing about it over the last couple of years,” she shared.

“He would never say it to me directly, because he knew I would get embarrassed, but more recently people have been telling me how proud he was of me.

“Without him and my mum, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m so grateful for having such supportive parents because that is what allowed me to achieve things that I never thought I could.”

Ron’s passing was exceptionally hard on Williams who had always looked up to her dad for his big heart, character and outlook on the world.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

With every milestone that goes past, time just makes you realise how much more you miss them ❤️

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As part of the stolen generation, Ron dealt with much adversity and even spent part of his life living in a rubbish dump, but despite what he went through, Williams said Ron’s love for people was unfaltering.

Even though the now 32-year-old has played at four World Cups and an Olympic Games, her core remains a true reflection of her upbringing and a glowing representation of her dad’s legacy.

“Dad just loved everyone,” she shared. 

“He didn't care what their background or the colour of their skin was, and he didn't care how he was treated. He loved learning about people and encouraging them in some way. That’s just who he was.”

“I remember my mum would always get so angry at him for giving people money when he was meant to buy us dinner or something equally important,” Williams recalled.

“Dad would always say ‘Oh, they needed it more than we do.’ He just had a real generosity about him and that's the one thing I try and take away from what he instilled in me.”

Williams says the lessons her dad taught her play out both on and off the pitch, but they aren’t just relevant to those around her. She says it’s just as important to offer yourself the same generosity.

“Being generous allows room for mistakes and it also means being generous with yourself,” she said.

“You can hold yourself to a high standard but if you make a mistake, it's being generous enough to know that everyone's human. We're all trying, and you can allow yourself to feel or be vulnerable.

“I think that's probably been the biggest thing I've had to learn - that being generous is also being vulnerable in those moments when things go wrong. It’s about knowing that it’s okay and it happens.”


Apart from her parents, Williams says the most influential person of her career has been former Matildas Head Coach, Tom Sermanni.

“Tom was the one who kind of ‘found me’,” she said. 

“I was out training at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and he brought me to my first camp. He’s seen me grow and develop over the years and taught me so much.”

Sermanni recounted his first memories of a young Williams, and apart from being gobsmacked by her remarkably long arms, it was her steely concentration and humility that stood out to him.

“My first memory of Lydia would be when I came back into the Matildas’ job at the end of 2004,” Sermanni said.

“Lydia would’ve only been about 16 or 17 but what first stood out to me was that she had these arms that seemed to go on forever.

“She’s not the tallest keeper in the world, so at the time you thought she would miss those balls that got knocked up high, but suddenly these extended arms would come out and catch them.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Arm span/height ratio is actually called the “ape index” I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours

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“She came into the high-performance environment very low-key, she was quiet, but she was sneaky quiet, with a great sense of humour,” he continued.

“What else stood out was that even as a teenager, Lydia never got flustered. If I think back over the eight years that I coached her, I can never remember her getting upset with me, her teammates or herself.

“She always had this calm demeanour that carried out into goal, whether she was playing in a World Cup or five-a-side training, it was always about focusing on the game. It’s a calmness, but one that’s got some steel and concentration about it.

Sermanni said that Williams is one of the most well-liked players he has coached, which he credits to her upbringing.

“Even as a youngster, Lydia was always humble, and she still is now.

“I don’t think you’d be able to go into any team, squad or group of players she has played with and have them say anything negative about her, which I believe has a lot to do with her upbringing.”

Although he no longer coaches Williams, the New Zealand Ferns Head Coach is proud of the wonderful woman the ‘gangly girl’ from the outback has become.

Seeing how Williams dealt with the loss of her father, her transition from barefoot AFL to Australia’s first-string goalkeeper and the way she bounced back from some career-threatening injuries has been inspirational for the coaching veteran to witness.

 

“I'm just really proud of how she's turned out,” Sermanni shared.

“Lydia has had a really difficult past, losing her dad at a young age and then transitioning from that background and coming into a high-performance environment the way she has, has been inspiring to watch.”

“Her mum has been such a great support and I think Lydia draws strength and character from her. 

“You hear all these clichés in the sport like, if you're a nice person, you can't be successful, but Lydia is proof that’s not true.

“She brings all those qualities, humility, kindness, hard work and resilience and has still had so much deserved success.

“I've been lucky enough to see her grow and develop into a young woman who cares and is passionate about people and causes.

“I’m proud of the fantastic things this gangly teenager from the outback has accomplished.”

 

Liana Buratti

Australia's oldest Olympian Frank Prihoda honoured with ski slope for his 99th birthday

Submitted by admin on Thu, 07/09/2020 - 14:40
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Alpine skier Frank Prihoda is Australia’s oldest living Olympian and celebrated his 99th birthday yesterday, where his contribution to winter sport was recognised by the Olympic and snow community.

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Frank began skiing as an eight-year-old, alongside his sister, Sasha Nekvapil, a Czech ski champion who competed at the 1948 Winter Games in St Moritz, Switzerland.

Initially, he wasn’t as taken by the sport as his older sibling, but his competitive instinct was later epitomised when he literally clawed himself through the gates to complete the Slalom on his Olympic debut.

“It wasn’t until I was about 13 that I began to take the sport seriously,” Frank said.

“My cousin and I went on a ski camp in Bohemia, Czechoslovakia, and afterwards joined our older sisters who were at the forefront of women’s skiing in Czechoslovakia.

“Even though we were still young, we would ski with the older elite skiers. 

“I remember they were very proud and professional, training regularly and eventually took on the role of teaching and instructing us.

“They taught us all there was to know about skiing, from nordic to downhill, but slalom, which I competed in at the Olympic Games, was seen as more of a novelty until around 1936.”

 

Frank grew up during World War II, which forced him to grow up quickly. He became a business owner while still a teenager, due to the loss of his father and the poor health of his mother.

“My father died when I was 17 and by the time I was 19, I had to take over the family business,” Frank explained. 

“My mother, who was the boss after my father passed away, had a stroke due to the stress of the war, so I became the head of the business.

“Consequently, I didn’t have as much time to train or ski, but I did as much as I could.”

In 1948, the Communist Putsch came into power. They were a strict socialist government and under the regime, Frank’s business was seized and his future was dim.

He decided to flee the country in January 1949 with his brother- in -law, Karel, crossing illegally into Austria where they met up with Sasha, who had just competed at the St Moritz 1948 Games and managed to escape returning home with the team.

The trio found home in Australia, landing in Melbourne on 9 March 1950. Frank took a job in Mt Buller, Victoria where he would operate ski lifts and ski on the weekends.

 

Frank’s prowess on the slopes was noticed immediately, with Australia fast-tracking Frank’s naturalisation so he could compete for his adopted country at the 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Games in Italy.

“The nomination had to be made six months ahead of the Games and by that time, I didn’t have the papers at that point,  as you’d needed to be in the country for five years before you could be naturalised,” the Thredbo resident explained.
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“By special act of parliament, they made an exception for me and I was absolved of that condition and naturalised earlier so I could compete.”

After all the legalities had been finalised, Frank was officially selected and sent to the US, Canada and Europe to train in December 1956. He arrived in Cortina, Italy, on 22 January 1956, four days out from the Opening Ceremony.

At 35 years-old, Frank competed in the Giant Slalom and Slalom where he placed 80th and 54th respectively. 

“With hindsight, I refer to the Olympic Games as hard work and it was made harder due to the conditions,” he said of his Olympic experience.

 

“There was very little snow so the terrain was very uneven, you would feel every bump and the rocks were very thinly covered which made it quite difficult.

“That was one of the reasons why we were absolved from taking part in the downhill.

“In the Giant Slalom I was quite nervous and got into the first gate, then had a fall,” Frank continued.

“I did better in the Slalom, but I remember there wasn’t much snow and I thought to myself, ‘how are they going to run Slalom on this?’

“There were no snow-makers back then, so they called the Fire Brigade who sprayed the whole slope with water which just created a huge, continuous ice rink down the slope.

“As a result, most of the skiers missed the gates because they slid out and couldn’t correct their course,” he explained.

“I was observing others while waiting for my turn and figured out which was the most dangerous gate, so I knew I had to take that one carefully.

“I did my best, but lo and behold, I started sliding out as well, and in those days, the poles were not like they are today, they were tree saplings firmly embedded into the ground, so I grabbed the inside pole and managed to get through the gate.

“People were laughing, but it was legal, and I had a reasonable result coming 54th, but I was the only one out of our team to finish that race.”

 

Frank said that although he didn’t finish where he would have liked, representing his adopted country filled him with pride.

“It was a big thing, it meant a lot to me,” he shared. 

“I was very proud and humbled that after just five years, I was able to walk under the flag, representing Australia.

“Because of that, all I wanted was to do my best for my adoptive country.”

After Frank competed at the 1956 Games, he relocated to Thredbo and out of his 72 years living in Australia, has spent the last 48 there.

He worked as a ski instructor and also ran a souvenir shop up until he retired at the age of 80. 

Incredibly, Frank was still skiing into his 90’s.

 

Frank says the secret to a long and healthy life is to live it quietly and stay close to nature.

“I think to a great degree, it’s Thredbo,” he said when asked what keeps him young.

“It’s a healthy place with clean living, you’re exposed to nature and all the elements. You have the option to live your life more quietly than you would in the city.

“You can still work hard but regulate your life and mental health better than you would working a high-pressure job.”

On Wednesday 8 July 2020, the day of his 99th birthday, Frank was presented with a special framed letter from AOC President, John Coates AC, which also contained a message from President of the Czech Olympic Committee Jiri Kejval.

Fellow Winter Olympian Jono Brauer,  presented the letter while Stuart Diver, Operations Manager of Thredbo Ski Resort and sole survivor of the 1997 Thredbo landslide also announced that a ski slope would be named after Frank, called 'Frank's Face.'

Liana Buratti

Relive the magic of Sydney 2000 as one-year countdown to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 begins

Submitted by admin on Thu, 07/09/2020 - 12:04
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Cathy Freeman Sydney 2000 Olympics
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Landmark Olympic Games specials on Channel 7: 9.15pm, 29 July & 5 August

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To celebrate the One Year to Go milestone to the rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, Seven will broadcast two landmark Olympic Games specials that revisit all the magic moments of the Greatest Games Ever, Sydney 2000.

The Opening Ceremony in Sydney was the show that stopped a nation, with more than 10 million metropolitan viewers tuning in on Seven. On Wednesday, 29 July – just days after the one-year countdown to the Games – Australians can rediscover all the unforgettable moments and, for the first time, hear the inside secrets behind the night’s spectacular successes and near-disasters.

This once-in-a-lifetime special event, The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Sydney 2000 Uncovered, features newly filmed interviews with the people who made that landmark night so special, including:

  • Headline acts Vanessa Amorosi, James Morrison, Human Nature, Adam Garcia, Djakapurra Munyarryun and Nikki Webster, whose spectacular performance at just 13 years of age wowed the world
  • The creative geniuses behind the Ceremony and two of the world’s greatest show producers, David Atkins and Ric Birch and their contemporaries, the brilliant Dein Perry, Rhoda Roberts, Meryl Tankard, Lex Marinos and Chong Lim.
  • Stunning performances from John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John, Tina Arena and Julie Anthony
  • Australian Olympic Flag bearer Andrew Gaze and the hometown hero who stole the whole show, Catherine Freeman
  • AND, just as importantly, the impressionable youngsters whose Olympic dream was born on that inspirational night: Tokyo 2020 medal contenders Cate Campbell, Bronte Campbell, Jess Fox, Mack Horton, Emma McKeon and Ellia Green

Then on Wednesday, 5 August, Seven will take fans back to the extraordinary two weeks of competition that followed in Sydney with a two-hour special on the Olympic Games Sydney 2000 Moments that Moved Us.

Hosted by Sunrise’s Mark Beretta, Seven’s Olympic Games experts led by Bruce McAvaney, Johanna Griggs, Mark Beretta, Dennis Cometti, Pat Welsh, Lord Sebastian Coe, Tamsyn Manou and Raelene Boyle have revisited Sydney 2000 and caught up with some of the athletes whose deeds captivated the nation. They include:

And who could forget the laughs Roy and HG delivered each night in Sydney with their unique take on the day’s events on The Dream?

You’ll hear stories that have never been told, see teammates reunited, and laugh and cry at moments that have become part of our national sporting fabric.

And our Sydney heroes have some advice for those heading to Tokyo on how to make their dreams come true.

Head of Olympics and Commonwealth Games Seven West Media Andy Kay commented:

“As one of only five countries that have competed at every Olympiad since 1896, the Olympic Games is deeply etched into Australia’s sporting DNA. That was never more evident than in Sydney 2000. For those who were there and the many more who watched on Seven, the memories of Australia’s greatest ever sporting moment will always remain.

"And with Tokyo 2020 now just one year away, what better time to relive the magic of Sydney – and to look forward to the next exciting chapter in our rich Olympic history.”   

Chief Revenue Officer and Director of Olympics Kurt Burnette added:

“These moments are etched into Australian minds forever. We’ve seen research prove nostalgia has played a big role in the Australian psyche through COVID-19 and lockdown. We will use these great moments of the past to remind Australia of the good times, the pride and inspiration all of which can come again. Those elements have never been more relevant, to importantly then propel and project forward to Tokyo.

"To create anticipation and a sense of pride of what is to come. Culminating in a celebration on air across Sunrise, 7NEWS, The Morning Show and our AFL coverage – with more celebration to come in September for the 20-year anniversary of Sydney 2000.”

The only place to watch Tokyo 2020 is the Home of the Olympics on Seven.

Olympic family share their sorrow after the loss of Alex "Chumpy" Pullin

Submitted by admin on Thu, 07/09/2020 - 10:32
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The tragic news of Alex 'Chumpy' Pullin's untimely passing yesterday left the Olympic community reeling.

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The outpouring of grief and heartfelt tributes from athletes across the sporting world, teammates, fans and young riders he has inspired were a reminder of just what an impact 'Chumpy' had throughout his lifetime.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Not really sure where to start, Chumpy was the whole reason I started snowboarding competivley, the first photo was the first time I met Chumpy, I was so stoked when I met him I was all shaky and nervous and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for days. I went home that night and made this photo my screensaver on my phone for weeks. Chumpy has been my biggest idol since the start, that was a question I’d always get asked when I was growing up was who is your idol and it was always Chumpy, he always had time to say Hi and have a chat but with the flip of a switch he managed to turn into such a fierce and competitive rider and I was always and still am in ore of that. I feel extremely greatful to have gone from that giddy kid lining up to get a photo and a signature with him to have been able to walk along side him at the Olympics. Chumpy truely is one of the kindest and warmest people I’ve ever known and I feel incredible privileged to have known him. He has left an incredible legacy and I know he will continue to inspire me and many other people. Rest In Peace legend. I hope the pow is deep and the runs are perfect cord up there. I hope to shred with you again one day. Thank you for everything ❤️

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I am shocked and deeply saddened that you’re gone. I’m really lost for words... It’s shaken many people here and around the world. All I can think about is the legacy you’ve left behind. We have had a lot of time together, many memories, with my favourite being at the end of the 2016 World Cup. I vividly remember that season with you and how it was a tough one for both of us. But, we topped it off by winning the last World Cup together. We won double gold for Australia! It was a first for Australia in snowboard cross and it was the first World Cup win for me. I remember crossing the finish line and collapsing to my knees with tears of joy and then went to the side lines to watch you race. I screamed, yelled and cheered as you raced all the way down until you crossed that line. We both threw our hands up at the same time and roared in triumph. I broke through the finishing area barriers and rushed over to hug you. I was so so happy for you. I remember looking at you and we both teared up as we realised what had happened. It was a moment I’ve always and always will cherish. You’re a good man, athlete and role model. Always living life to its fullest, full of energy and always up for the challenge when it presents itself. Chumpy, Thankyou for your passion, drive and energy. Thankyou for the legacy you have left behind. Thankyou for what you have done for snowboarding especially in Australia. Without you, it wouldn’t be the same. Ride on Chumpy, Belle❤️

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I’m pretty shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the passing Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin. He was a hell of a snowboarder, pioneer of the SBX community and world, and from the first time I met him at the Aus Futures camp in Hotham to traveling around the world, living together on the road and competing in World Cup races together, Chumpy was always willing to help me out with advice and some of his good old words of wisdom. He always had a passion for the next generation of snowboarders in the sport and without a doubt he had a hand in getting me to where I am today. Thank you Chumpy for mentoring me though the years, being a good friend, always down for a laugh and an awesome, passionate person to be on the team with. I have always looked up to you, snowboarding in Australia and the world will not be the same without you. My thoughts go out to his family and close friends. Rest In Peace legend ❤️

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Today we are mourning the sudden and tragic loss of Alex “Chumpy” Pullin while spearfishing off the Gold Coast in Australia. Along with our partners at The Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA) and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), we recognize and honour Alex’s life and contribution to sport. As a two-time World Champion and three-time Olympian, Alex attended Vancouver (2010), Sochi (2014), and PyeongChang (2018) representing Australia in snowboard cross. Alex exemplified everything good about sport: passion, commitment, discipline, and comradery that made him a true icon. Alex was known for being a generous teammate and engaged mentor to many young athletes. Offering his deepest sympathies on Alex’s passing, Peter Schure, Vice President of Teams And Sponsorships, shares that, “Chumpy was a true ambassador of sport. He exemplified all that is good and we celebrate his passion, his career, and his life. His passing truly leaves a big hole in our hearts”. As the apparel sponsor to the OWIA and AOC since 2003, we at Karbon offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and teammates. Alex will be sorely missed. To honour Alex’s commitment to sport in Australia and his enduring legacy in snowboarding around the world, we are renaming our custom Australian team competition jacket, “The Chumpy”. During the World Cup season and at the upcoming Beijing Olympics in 2022, athletes wearing their team jackets will keep Alex’s memory alive from the opening ceremony to the final moments of the games. Ride on, Chumpy.

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Farewell Chumpy ✨❤️ so sad and shocked to learn the world has lost such a bright, genuine and kind soul. You brought the beat, the energy, the laughs and the competitiveness wherever you went and inspired so many along the way. I learned a lot from you and appreciated the chats, the shoots, the events, the coffee catch ups, the training sessions with Nam & the @redbullau family, and that first wings for life world run where i found you at the 10km mark just chilling and waiting for the car to catch you! Glad I forced you to keep running those last few Ks with me, it was good fun. We will miss you 💔🌟 my deepest condolences to the Pullin family, friends and Alex’s partner, Ellidy. 📷 @andygreenimages

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I have no words right now. @alexchumpypullin you were such a massive part of my childhood and you will always be an irreplaceable icon in my life. I cannot thank you enough for all the time you spent with me mentoring and teaching me. I will forever remember and cherish all the times talking about snowboarding, skating, music and you playing your guitar. All your advice you gave me for snowboarding which has also been transferred into my skating will never leave me. You and your family were such a massive light during my childhood and if it wasn’t for you guys I would’nt be where I am today. I’m going to cherish the board you signed for me and the ukulele you gave me. Snowboarding lost a true legend today. Fly high beautiful angel forever in our hearts 🤍🌹

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Rest in Peace, Chumpy.

AOC mourns tragic passing of Alex 'Chumpy' Pullin

Submitted by admin on Wed, 07/08/2020 - 14:40
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The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) is mourning the tragic loss of Winter Olympian Alex “Chumpy” Pullin.

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The three-time Winter Olympian and two-times world champion snowboard cross athlete carried the flag for the Australian Team at the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014.

The Australian Olympic Team’s Chef de Mission at Vancouver (2010), Sochi (2014) and PyeongChang (2018) Ian Chesterman described Alex Pullin as a natural leader.

“This is an incredibly sad day for us all. Chumpy was a champion bloke as well as being a champion athlete. He had great charisma that allowed him to be a natural leader.

“He was always prepared to give his time to build winter sport in this country because he was so passionate about what he did. His enthusiasm was infectious and his impact on Olympic sport can’t be overstated.

“Chumpy will be greatly missed, not just within our winter sports family but by the so many people he impacted on both here and overseas. 

“This is a desperately sad time for his family, his friends, teammates and all in winter sports. We are all devastated and our heartfelt sympathies go to his loved ones,” Mr Chesterman said.

Chief Executive Officer of the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA) Geoff Lipshut also paid tribute to Alex Pullin’s contribution to elite snow sport in Australia. 

“Chumpy was Australia’s great snowboard male pioneer. As a junior, he won a medal at the World Junior Championships, before going on to two World Championships, two World Cup Championships and three Olympics Games. 

“From day one of his 12 years as an Olympic Winter Institute of Australia athlete, Chumpy attacked each day, competition and training session with his trademark intensity, purpose, energy and enthusiasm. 

“Chumpy was a leader, a great champion and will be missed by all of the winter sports community both in Australia and around the World. It is very sad,” Mr Lipshut concluded. 

The Australian Olympic Committee passes on its condolences to Alex’s family, his many friends, teammates and colleagues. 

Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin

  • 3 x Olympian – Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014 , PyeongChang 2018
  • 2 x  World Champion (2011, 2013) and 1 bronze (2017), as well as overall World Cup title in both 2011 and 2013
  • Best result at Olympics – 6th at PyeongChang

AOC celebrates 99th birthday of Australia's oldest Olympian Frank Prihoda

Submitted by admin on Wed, 07/08/2020 - 08:36
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Frank Prihoda header
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The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) is celebrating the 99th birthday today of Australia’s oldest living Olympian, Frank Prihoda.  (Pron:  pree-hoe-da)

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Mr Prihoda represented Australia at the Cortina d’Ampezzo 1956 Winter Olympic Games where he competed in alpine skiing.  

Australia sent a Team of ten athletes to Italy with Frank finishing 54th in the Slalom and 80th in the Giant Slalom.

Frank migrated to Australia in 1950 after fleeing communist Czechoslovakia, along with his sister Sasha, herself a Czech Winter Olympian, and her husband Karel Nekvapil.

Frank and Karel made their daring escape from Czechoslovakia on skis, while Sasha absconded from the returning Czech Winter Olympic Team shortly after the 1948 Olympic Games in St Moritz. 

AOC President John Coates paid tribute to Frank’s pioneering role in Australian winter sport. 

“Our winter Olympians stand on Frank’s broad shoulders as a trailblazer. 

 

“Australia is so fortunate that he chose to make this country his home and more fortunate still, that he strived to represent his new home at the pinnacle of winter sports, the Olympic Games,“ Mr Coates said.

Mr Coates’ words were echoed by the President of the Czech Olympic Committee Jiri Kejval.

“On behalf of the Czech Olympic Committee I would like to pass on the warmest birthday wishes from the Czech Republic and congratulate you on your life-long achievements and dedication to sport,” Mr Kejval said.

After initially working in Melbourne and then Mt Buller as a lift operator and ski instructor, Frank eventually settled in Thredbo, NSW where he ran a souvenir shop and later volunteered at the local museum.

His sister Sasha had already established herself in Thredbo, building one of the first ski lodges in the township, with her husband Karel. 

Today, only Frank remains of that pioneering Czech trio, having ended his skiing days not long after turning 90. His Olympic achievements are the most cherished of memories.

“It was a big thing, it meant a lot to me. I was very proud and humbled that after just five years, I was able to walk under the flag, representing Australia.

“Because of that, all I wanted was to do my best for my adoptive country.

“With hindsight, I refer to the Olympic Games as hard work and it was made harder due to the conditions. There was very little snow, so the terrain was very uneven.

“In the Giant Slalom I was quite nervous and got into the first gate, then had a fall.

“I did better in the Slalom, but I remember there wasn’t much snow. There were no snow-makers then, so they called the Fire Brigade who sprayed the whole slope with water which just created a huge, continuous ice rink down the slope. 

“As a result, most of the skiers missed the gates because they slid out and couldn’t correct their course,” he explained.

“I did my best, but lo and behold, I started sliding out as well, and in those days, the poles were not like they are today, they were tree saplings firmly embedded into the ground, so I grabbed the inside pole and managed to get through the gate,” Frank explained. 

Last month Frank was awarded the Snow Australia Medal to honour his contribution to snow sports in Australia.



The Czech Embassy in Australia is hosting a party in Thredbo today to celebrate Frank’s achievements.

Fellow Olympic alpine skier Jono Brauer (Turin 2006) will present Frank with a commemorative letter from AOC President John Coates to mark the occasion.

Stuart Diver, Operations Manager of Thredbo Ski Resort will also be making a special announcement honouring Frank’s contribution to the town. 

Queensland to Tokyo - Erika Yamasaki

Submitted by admin on Fri, 07/03/2020 - 10:29
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HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 21: Erika Yamasaki of Australia competes in the women's 53kg weight class during the 2015 International Weightlifting Federation World Championships at the George R. Brown Convention Center on November 21, 2015 in Houston, Texas. (P
Article Introduction

Having dedicated two decades of her life to the sport, the name Erika Yamasaki is synonymous with Olympic weightlifting in Australia. 

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A Life Member of the QWA and Cougars Weightlifting Club, Erika has represented Australia at a large number of international events including three Commonwealth Games (becoming a bronze medalist on home soil in 2006), and remains the only Australian woman to lift double bodyweight in the clean and jerk.

 

"This year marks 20 years of being involved in weightlifting, after I was first introduced in Year 8 by QWA development officer Scott Robinson through the Talent Identification Program. At the time I didn't know what weightlifting was, and oh boy... just how much that moment would shape my entire life," she said.

"That first day I clean and jerked my bodyweight (35kgs), having never having touched a weightlifting bar before in my life. The only bars I'd ever known were the uneven bars in gymnastics, the handlebars on my bike... and the many chocolate bars I'd consumed over time."

How are you involved with developing the sport of weightlifting in Queensland?

Over the years I have dipped my toes in coaching, held positions on the Cougars Weightlifting Club and QWA committees, been involved with weightlifting demonstrations, and spoken at schools and awards nights.

I enjoy regularly volunteering at competitions as an official and hold an IWF International Category 2 Referee qualification, and once I retire from competing I hope to become more involved with coaching and will continue officiating.

How have your training priorities changed in the lead up to Tokyo 2020?

During the qualification period most things have stayed the same, and I continue to work full-time, so mainly I've had to change my mental state, focusing on managing my anxiety, my bodyweight and completing my training sessions.

In addition to some personal obstacles, I struggled a lot psychologically after not making the team for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and felt I was in no position to make an Olympics based on the previous qualification system. I was also struggling to train, and would often feel too sleepy driving to training, and fall asleep in the club car park from too much anxiety during the day.

Once the new system was announced, I had to try to get myself back into training mode and push harder than ever to meet the criteria to stay in contention for Tokyo 2020. I had put on a lot of weight, but once I started to get on top of things, everything started to fall into place, and each one, at exactly the right time.

Who are your supporters and sponsors who have helped on your Olympic Games journey?

I feel like there are too many to list! I have been lifting for such a long time and this journey hasn't just been the last 1.5yrs towards qualifying for Tokyo, but really since I began lifting. The ultimate goal has always been to one day make it to the Olympic stage and there have been so many people who have helped me along the way.

The people who have been there since the get-go are my family and my coaches. Angela Wydall for most of my career, not only as a coach, but as a close friend and one of my biggest supporters. My club Cougars Weightlifting, my teammates, team officials and my friends in the sport.

The support network from the Queensland Academy of Sport, my dietitians, physiotherapists, massage therapists, exercise physiologist, psychiatrist, psychologists and work colleagues. And more recently, but one of the most important, my partner Brock, especially going through these difficult circumstances that we are all now dealing with COVID-19.

Tell us about your life outside the gym?

I work in the finance team for a security company where I've been for 10 years now. They have always been very supportive and understanding of my sporting commitments, which has been vital for training, competing, and managing financially with ease.

I don’t have much spare time, so when I do I mainly spend it with my partner Brock and our two Golden Retrievers, Ronin and Annie. I also enjoy doing crafts, spending time with friends, and getting outside to do literally anything that isn’t work or lifting. If I ever have a week or more off training and work, I would use that time to go travelling somewhere.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Erika Yamasaki - Weightlifter (@yamasaki87) on

What would it mean to you to make the 2020 Australian Olympic Team?

To make it to the Olympics would be my biggest sporting dream come true. I have been training towards this dream for such a long time and it hasn’t come easy, so I would definitely feel like all the hard work that my team and I have done would have been worth every drop of blood, sweat and tear.

I think the most meaningful part though, is having had to crawl out of a very dark place, fighting each moment just to get through each day, to now actually considering myself as an Olympic hopeful... reminding me each day, that no matter what, I will get through.

As of March 2020, Erika is in the top spot for Continental – Oceania in both the F55 and F59 categories. Source Weightlifting House.

Queensland Weightlifting

Athletes the focus of the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021

Submitted by admin on Fri, 07/03/2020 - 09:25
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John Coates smiling - ANOC
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AOC President and Chair of the Coordination Commission for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, John Coates AC, is featured in the latest newsletter from the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC). In this article he talks about the ongoing planning for the Games next year and the key priority of ensuring the athlete experience remains the key focus for all. 

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With the IOC and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee announcing in June that the Games would be simplified to ensure the safety of participants and reduce the financial impact of the one-year delay, ANOC spoke with the chair of the Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission John Coates to understand the implications for NOCs.

What advice would you give NOCs on preparing for Tokyo 2020?

As we begin to step up preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, let’s use this time to encourage unity and creativity in order to emerge from this pandemic even stronger. Despite the current difficulties, we must ensure that the focus of our efforts remain on the athletes.

NOCs have a responsibility to provide the necessary tools for athletes to prepare and in this ‘new normal’, we will all need to re-evaluate our activities and make necessary adjustments to optimise our strategies. This is very much evident in the re-planning process for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Our aim is to reduce the cost impact of postponement and promote public interest, reflecting the new global economic, societal and public health contexts but without affecting sport and the athletes’ experience.

We’ve been looking at ways to simplify and reduce the complexity of the Games to ensure they can be organised efficiently, safely and sustainably in this new environment. To deliver this effectively, we need the continued support of the NOCs to ensure that their experience is leveraged to find creative solutions to simplify Games delivery.

In return, NOCs should use this exercise as inspiration to develop and adjust their own plans to maximise efficiencies in their Games’ operations.

These efforts can be aided by Olympic Solidarity, which has increased its budget for the IOC’s Subsidies for the Participation of the NOCs in the Olympic Games, from USD 46.7m to USD 57m and has extended its athlete support programmes focused on Tokyo 2020.

This additional funding relating to exceptional Games-related costs incurred by NOCs due to the postponement of the Tokyo Games allows the NOCs to sustain additional costs that might occur in the continually evolving environment in the lead-up to the Tokyo Games.

 

Change will indeed remain a continual challenge for all delivery partners, however NOCs can rest assured that Tokyo 2020 is working tirelessly to ensure NOC delegations are warmly welcomed to Japan next summer for what is set to be a historic occasion.

What impact will the simplification of Tokyo 2020 have on NOCs and their athletes?

First and foremost, athletes are and always will remain the focal point of the Olympic Games. This is why the IOC and Tokyo 2020 have been conducting meetings with the NOCs to listen to them and better understand their needs.

Giving them the best stage to perform is paramount to the Tokyo Games success. In regards to cost minimisation and simplification, the principles recently published by Tokyo 2020 include the phrases “while prioritising sport and athletes” and “maintaining the fundamentals of sport”. That is why, in principle, the athletes experience and the field of play at all venues will remain unaffected by the optimisation efforts we are taking to simplify the Tokyo 2020 Games.

That said, extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures. This situation requires every one of us to do our part. It will need all our solidarity, creativity, determination and flexibility as we make the right decisions to hold a successful and safe Games next year.

Whilst NOCs and athletes may notice some subtle differences to previous Games, what is exciting is that Tokyo 2020 will be a blueprint for future host cities.

These Games will bring to life the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020 and the New Norm, putting into practice measures we’re taking to make the Olympic Games more sustainable, flexible, easier to operate and less expensive, while also unlocking more value for host cities over the long term.

Acknowledging the significant support from our hosts and having been directly involved in the extensive re-planning work being undertaken by all stakeholders, I can assure you that the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be a truly memorable moment for everyone involved after going through the current global crisis.

How important will the next few months be in the preparations for Tokyo 2020?

The next few months will be hugely important not only for Tokyo 2020 but for humanity as the COVID-19 pandemic develops. This crisis is very different - no individual, no government, no nation can solve it on their own. It will require human excellence, experience and creativity, which will require more solidarity and international cooperation, assets that NOCs will need to draw upon over the coming months. What the postponement of the Games has provided however is time - time to allow us to gain experience from the best practices for managing the virus.

This will be crucial to our goal of delivering a safe and healthy environment for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. That is why the close collaboration in the All Partner Task Force between the Japanese Government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020, the World Health Organisation, the IPC and the IOC has been so important.

Together we have seen signs of hope, with the resumption of many domestic sports events and larger numbers of spectators being allowed to return in some countries, including Japan, within the coming weeks. International competitions are due to return in early Autumn which will provide further examples of how such events are being managed in the current context. All of this will be crucial to our re-planning efforts as we focus on the delivery of the Games next summer.

What role do you think Tokyo 2020 will play in bringing the world back together after this dark period?

It presents us with a unique opportunity to turn the celebration of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 into a festival of unity for humankind, and a symbol of human resilience to overcome this devastating crisis. These Olympic Games will be a powerful signal of hope for the world during these unprecedented times. The Olympic flame will be the light at the end of this dark tunnel that we find ourselves in.

 

ANOC

Grice's proven gun more than a sentimental choice

Submitted by admin on Tue, 06/30/2020 - 15:46
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Thomas Grice of NSW competes in qualifying during the Trap and Skeet Shooting Commonwealth Championships at the Lake Macquarie Clay Target Club on January 18, 2020 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)
Article Introduction

Could you imagine Lewis Hamilton driving a 14-year old Mercedes Formula One racing car, or Tiger Woods using a decade-old driver? What about a Tokyo Olympian using a 14-year old shotgun that has fired over 200,000 rounds at clay targets over its life span?

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Trap shooter Thomas Grice will be headed to his first Olympic Games in Tokyo next year and there is every possibility his trusty 14-year old Beretta 682 shotgun will be his firearm of choice when he takes on the world’s best.

Apart from being the gun that saw him earn Tokyo Olympic selection alongside James Willett, there is a high degree of emotional sentiment attached to his gun.

Grice’s grandfather, Frank Gould, was the man responsible for introducing him to shooting when he was first eligible to receive a shooting permit when aged 12.

For the first two years, Grice would use his mother’s shotgun, but that soon changed.

“He set mum’s gun up to suit me and when it became apparent that I was going to stick at it for a while and keep going to the range, he said you’ve got to have your own gun that’s got to be set up to fit you properly,” Grice said.

True to his word, Gould purchased the Beretta 682 – the same gun used by his mum – and he could hardly contain his excitement when it was presented to him.

 

“It was a great day. It was the same gun as what I’d been shooting for a couple of years. But to be able to say it was mine, and it was set up to suit just me, is what every kid dreams of,” Grice said.

“Having two younger brothers as well, this was something I didn’t have to share,” he added with a laugh.
“He’s (Gould) been my best supporter by far. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”

Complicating his gun of choice at Tokyo next year is the recent arrival of a Beretta DT11 Black which he earned when claiming the High Gun prize at the Beretta Cup championship in Lonato, Italy last year.

But following the closure of his home range at the Sydney International Shooting Centre (SISC) because of COVID-19 and upgrades to the trap range, the Cobbitty local has yet to fire a shot with his new gun.

“I’ve mounted with it 8,000 times but it’s still sitting in my gun safe. If it’s not up to scratch, I will be back with the old girl for sure,” he said.

Once live firing resumes at SISC, Grice intends to spend a weekend testing the gun to see if it will improve his shooting accuracy, but he remains unsure whether he will use the upgraded version in Tokyo.

“Fifty percent of the people out there will tell you that you have to have the latest and greatest, and the fifty percent of other people will tell you its how it fits you and having some talent and just putting it into the right place every time. It’s hard to argue against that. If you put the gun in the right place, it doesn’t matter what gun you are shooting,” he said.

Grice was forced to endure a nail-biting Olympic nomination series before finally getting the welcome phone call from National Shotgun Coach, Richard Sammon, that he would be nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection in Tokyo. 

“I was driving and had the phone on Bluetooth when he called. I nearly fell out of the car door. I was smacking the side of the door that hard I was that happy. I nearly broke the window,” he said with a laugh.

Going into the fourth and final nomination event at SISC, Grice held a narrow two-point lead over 2016 Rio Olympian, Mitch Iles, for the second position behind runaway leader, James Willett – but not that he knew the precise margin.

“I very purposely had not done the maths. I knew I was in front, but by how many I didn’t know. I knew it wasn’t all that many. I figured if I don’t miss, he can’t catch me,” he said.

Because of the growing coronavirus concerns and the fact that he and Iles were the only athletes capable of capturing the second men’s trap position, they were the only shooters entered for the final event meaning that it was effectively a two-man shoot-off.

 

“It was strange, but I was there to do a job and I did a decent job of not letting too much rattle me. I thought I had four targets on him going into the event, but it turned out that I only had two,” he said.

“So, with a few targets to go in that last event, I thought I was in. I thought I had the second spot nailed down and I thought he can’t catch me here. Then I missed another one late in that last round and then went through clean from there and walked away at the end to find out I had him by two. That was tight.”
‘It’s hard to think that after 500 targets it would come down to one target,” he added.

Winning Olympic selection was Grice’s goal and he admits he has relied on hard work throughout his career, rather than natural ability, to attain his dream.

He has represented Australia on the international shooting circuit since he and younger brother James won selection to attend the 2012 Junior World Cup.

He went close to winning selection for the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the trap places were ultimately claimed by Adam Vella and Iles. “It proved to me that I was capable of it,” he said.

Games selection ultimately came his way at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, but one poor round saw him finish out of medal contention. 

“But I’ve made vast improvements since then. I’m a far better shooter now than I was then. It was good experience, good exposure and hopefully it will hold me in good stead going into the Olympics.

“It was a great event, good fun and to be part of a home Games was just amazing. To see the support for shooting, which is so often reviled and gets dragged through the mud in the media, and to have a stand of people cheering for shooting, was excellent,” he added.

But a home Games can prove to be a distraction with family and friends part of a raucous crowd.
“I thought leading in I was doing a pretty good job of being able to distance myself from that and just focus on my shooting. But I don’t think I really did, looking back. It was good experience and I can certainly build from that.”

While Grice hasn’t fired a shot since the final Olympic nomination event in March, he has reviewed his training regime and has added more fitness work into his Tokyo Games preparation program, particularly with the purchase of a rowing machine and extra gym work.

“While there’s some excellent shooters that are very obviously not all that physically fit, I think it’s a great help to be far fitter, so I am working on my fitness a lot more than I ever have in the past. Hopefully, that’s going to put me in good stead going into the future.”

Additionally, through his association with the NSW Institute of Sport, he is working with a dietician and intends to utilise its physio services when he returns to firing at 300 targets a week in training.

Apart from his individual event in Tokyo, Grice will compete in the Mixed Pairs where he’s likely to be partnered with Victorian, Penny Smith.

The pair won the inaugural Mixed Pairs world title in 2017 and were bronze medallists behind team-mates Willett and Laetisha Scanlan at last year’s World Championship.

When he goes to Tokyo, he knows anything is possible and fondly recalls the jaw-dropping Winter Olympic Games victory of Steven Bradbury.

“To finish first, first you must finish,” he said. 

And watching proudly will be his Pop, who will be aged 90 by the Games.

“It would be nice to come home with a bit of silverware for him.”

Greg Campbell
Shooting Australia 

Queensland to Tokyo - Brandon Wakeling

Submitted by admin on Mon, 06/29/2020 - 14:14
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GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 06: Brandon Wakeling of Australia competes in the snatch discipline during the Men's 69kg Weightlifting on day two of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre on April 6, 2018 on the Gold Co
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Since holding the Sydney 2000 Olympic torch in his hands at the tender age of 6, Cougars Weightlifting Club athlete Brandon Wakeling knew he wanted to represent Australia at the Olympic Games.

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Fast forward to today and that dream is firmly in his sights, with Brandon sharing his journey with Queensland Weightliftingand Australian Olympic Team fans.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ecstatic to earn my first international gold and experience the anthem played and the flag risen yesterday 🇦🇺 118/123/127x in the snatch and a 157/162/167 in the clean and jerk for a 290kg total and overall gold at the Pacific Games 🥇 This competition was also tied in with the Oceania and Commonwealth Championships, which I also earned a 🥇 and a 🥈 Also a new National, Oceania and momentary Commonwealth clean and jerk record before it was broken 🤷🏽‍♂️ Massive thanks to @mwydall @angiewydall and @dr_rob_mitchell1955 for coaching me through this one, and also another thanks to @mwydall for the continuous effort you put in for our campaign for #tokyo2020 🇯🇵 Also thank you to @danmarshall and @officialrecoverybar for your continuous effort... 3 Olympic qualifiers down, 3 to go 💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽 @samoa_2019

A post shared by Brandon Wakeling (@brandon_wakeling) on

 

"I started lifting at the end of 2015 at the age of 21, with my first competition being less than a month into starting to learn the sport on Halloween that year. I had no prior experience with the snatch and clean and jerk as I had just finished the season of my 15th year of playing rugby league," he said.

"Alongside playing rugby league, I was a commercial gym enthusiast and found myself in the gym every day of the week, sometimes twice daily. The gym was initially something I dedicated myself too from the age of 17 to help gain some body mass to assist with my rugby league performance but found myself falling in love with the process of resistance training at the gym.

"As time went on and I entered my 20’s, I found myself putting more effort into the gym and less into football. One day at the gym I got word that a ‘Weightlifting Club’ was doing free Monday night sessions and blindly followed a friend to give this ‘Olympic weightlifting’ thing a try to add some variety to my training. That’s where my journey into the sport began.

"Going into 2016 I decided to stop playing rugby league and give this sport a try for the year, entering in 12 competitions that year and really enjoying the experience and progress I gained in just a year.

"At the end of 2016, I graduated university and instead of entering the workforce, I decided to take a big risk at dedicating all my time and effort to try make the 2018 Commonwealth Games team.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thank you everybody for the support yesterday. Unfortunately yesterday just wasn’t my day. I was certainly prepared to lift what I knew I was capable of, but sometimes in the sport it doesn’t matter how prepared you are, you can still have one of those days where it just doesn’t come together. That’s just the nature of the sport. It’s unfortunately a very bitter pill to swallow, but at the same time can drive us to reach for more. . Although my competition didn’t go as planned, the amount of support I received from everyone in that venue yesterday was something that will live with me forever. I couldn’t have been more proud and privileged to wear the green and gold, not only on Aus soil, but also in my hometown in front of all of my friends and family 🇦🇺 . For all of those who have supported and helped me throughout my rather fast tracked journey to get to this stage, I can’t thank you all enough. To @gazpin_69kg , congratulations on getting that well deserved gold mate. You certainly earned it and you did your whole country proud. I’ll see you in Tokyo 😉

A post shared by Brandon Wakeling (@brandon_wakeling) on

 

"After a long and arduous year, that risk paid off as I had made the team and still to this day am pursuing weightlifting wholeheartedly, this time around with the goal of making the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo."

How are you involved with developing the sport of weightlifting in Queensland?

On a weekly basis, I coach the junior lifters at Burleigh Barbell Club, where I coach those that are eight years and older. Although I don’t consider myself someone who has ‘seen and done it all’ in the sport, I understand that someone who has had many unique experiences at an elite level holds some form of value that is important to help develop the sport.

Especially at the grassroots level, I feel we have a big future with our young up and coming lifters and I feel it's important I share my experience and help develop the sport where I can.

How have your training priorities changed in the lead up to Tokyo 2020?

The lead up to this event started way back at the end of 2018 World Championships in November and has been a very congested lead up with several international competitions between then and now.

As the qualification period progressed, I realised the importance of looking after your body and staying healthy, which can become increasingly difficult with the amount of pressure-filled Olympic qualifying events that were scheduled.

I am still going strong and hope to perform at the best of my ability at the last Olympic qualifying event being the Oceania Championships at the end if April in Nauru.

Tell us about your life outside the gym, and your involvement with Deadly Choices

I started to work with Deadly Choices as an ambassador after the 2018 Commonwealth Games. At Deadly Choices we aim to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make healthy choices for themselves and their family.
 

 

This includes helping those in need to stop smoking, promoting healthy eating and exercise habits and encouraging the community to access their local Community Controlled Health Service and complete their annual ‘health check’. This is all done through a variety of avenues including tobacco cessation, education and cooking programs, sport and recreation, community events, leadership camps and a variety of programs with our younger and elderly Indigenous population.

As someone with Indigenous roots, I feel it's important to connect with community and share my experiences and share how making healthy life choices has positively influenced my life, not only just in the realm of sporting achievements, but in all aspects.

Also, the ability to expand our horizons and show the Indigenous community that we can excel in other avenues such as Olympic Weightlifting I feel is important. We have had only one Indigenous Olympian represent the sport at that level before (Anthony Martin, 2000 Sydney Olympics) and I hope to be the second.

What would it mean to you to make the 2020 Australian Olympic Team?

The Olympic Games is something I have wanted to be a part of ever since I can remember. Alongside rugby league, I also enjoyed athletics from a very young age and wanted to represent Australia at the Olympics in the long jump.

This dream was something so dear to me that back when I was six years old, I had my parent dig a long jump pit into the backyard to practice. As time went on and I slowly grew away from that childhood dream, I somehow found myself revitalising that dream many years later, but with Olympic Weightlifting.

As of March 2020, Brandon is in the top spot for Continental – Oceania in both the M73 and M81 categories.

Queensland Weightlifting