WEEKEND WRAP: Beach Volleyball gold and steps towards Tokyo

Submitted by admin on Mon, 11/18/2019 - 13:36
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Taliqua and Mariafe - Chetumal
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Beach Volleyball gold in Mexico, the Opals progress through to next year’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament and Aussie baseballers finishing their Premier 12 campaign headline this week in Olympic sport.

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Beach Volleyball – Mexican gold for Clancy and Artacho del Solar

Volleyball due Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar ended their 2019 season on a high, winning the 4-star FIVB tournament in Chetumal, Mexico.

The pair came from a set down to win the title over China’s Xia and Wang 15-21, 21-14, 15-12.

 

The pair went undefeated through the tournament, which included gutsy come from behind wins in both the semi-final and gold medal match.

It was a phenomenal return to form for the pair, taking the Chetumal title in just their second tournament back after four months of injury layoff since their World Championships bronze in July.

Find out more and catch the full gold medal replay HERE

Baseball – Aussies take historic win and top 6 finish from Premier 12

Australia’s baseballers finished their Premier 12 campaign in sixth place, going down in their final Super Round matchup to Chinese Taipei 5-1 off the back of a 4-run eighth innings from Taipei.

The result denied the Australians a place in the bronze medal playoff, at Australia’s first tilt at the Premier 12 tournament.

With a Tokyo 2020 quota spot going to the highest ranked team from Asia/Oceania not already qualified, South Korea’s silver medal earned them a place at baseball’s return to the Olympic arena. 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

From all of us, thank you! 💚💛 #AUSp12 #Premier12

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With a final chance for Australia to qualify at a global qualification tournament in March next year, strong performances like the team’s historic 2-1 win over USA on Wednesday will give the team confidence.

“There are a lot of emotions about some of the results but I think we’ve been in every game and at some stage of every game, we’ve had an opportunity to win,” Manager David Nilsson said.

Find out more HERE

Modern Pentathlon - Ed Fernon secures quota spot with Oceania title

London 2012 Olympian Ed Fernon has secured a quota spot by name for Tokyo 2020, winning the Oceania title at the Asian/Oceania Championships in China last Tuesday.

In a remarkable comeback, Fernon put in one of the best performances of his career after several years away from international competition to claim the title, with fellow Australian Rhys Lanskey close behind.

“It’s been an amazing experience and a real team effort,” Fernon said with a huge smile after the event.

“So many people supported me along the way. Three months ago, this was the furthest thing to come back and have another shot.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to achieve here and I’m really excited for training for Tokyo.”

Find out more HERE.

Basketball – Opals progress to Olympic Qualification Tournament with 2-1 record in Malaysia

The Australian Opals have made it through to the 2020 global Olympic Qualification Tournament for Tokyo 2020 after finishing second in their pool at the Asian Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Malaysia.

With eight Asian teams vying for four spots at next February’s global qualifiers, Australia’s dominant wins over India and Chinese Taipei were enough to see them through as second in their pool, with a tough 82-69 loss to Japan in their final matchup.
 


Australia will compete with 15 other teams for 10 remaining Tokyo quota spots at the 6-9 February Olympic Qualifying Tournament, with hosts Japan and 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup champions US already securing their Tokyo berths.

The Opals will find out their Olympic Qualifying Tournament pools and locations at the FIBA draw on 27 November.

Hockey – Brisbane and Sydney crowned national hockey champions

A host of Hockeyroos and Kookaburras starred on grand final day for the inaugural Hockey One league, with Brisbane Blaze defeating Melbourne in a shootout to claim the women’s title and NSW Pride dominating Brisbane 8-3 in the men’s final.

In the women’s final, after being locked 1-1 at the end of regulation, Hockeyroo teammates went head to head in a nail-biting shootout. Rosie Malone slotted the championship-winning penalty past national goalkeeper Rachael Lynch to secure the win.
 


The NSW Pride men’s team finished their incredible year on top, capping off an unbeaten season with a dominant 8-3 grand final victory.

Tim Brand scored a first-half hattrick to set the tone and the Pride never gave Brisbane a chance in the second half.

Find out more on the men’s final HERE and women’s final HERE


Equestrian – Hazel Shannon wins Trifecta at Australian 3-Day Event

Hazel Shannon became the first rider to claim the Australian 3-Day Event Trifecta on the same horse, winning dressage, showjumping and cross country on 14-year-old chestnut Willingapark Clifford.

“It blows my mind to think about what we have achieved and where we have come from,’’ Shannon, 27, said.

“I wasn’t born into an eventing family or community. I came down from Far North Queensland to NSW to work for Heath Ryan for what was meant to be a gap year and 10 years later we have done this.

“That’s how I met Clifford. He’s changed my life and the partnership I have with him has achieved things I never thought possible.’’

Find out more HERE

Olympians awarded for stellar years

Olympians and Tokyo 2020 hopefuls are among the winners as Australia’s sporting institutes recognise the best performances of 2019.

At Friday’s West Australian Institute of Sport Awards, swimmer Brianna Throssell was named athlete of the year, while Sydney 2000 Olympian and sailing coach Belinda Stowell took out coach of the year.
 

Find out more about the best in the West HERE

In Sydney, Cate Campbell and Tom Burton took out the New South Wales Institute of Sport athlete of the year awards after a year of great international success.

2018 Youth Olympian Will Cooley also took out the young athlete of the year award.

The work of Olympians in the community was also recognised, with the Olympic Unleashed program, presented by Optus, taking out the 7 News Spirit of Sport award.

Clancy and Artacho del Solar end successful year with Chetumal gold

Submitted by admin on Mon, 11/18/2019 - 10:58
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Mariafe and Taliqua BVB World
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Rio Olympians Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar have ended a solid year of competition with FIVB Beach Volleyball Tour gold, when they competed in the last event of the season in Chetumal, Mexico over the weekend.

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It was a golden end to the year for the pair, who clinched World Championship bronze in July, overcoming injuries and fighting back from behind.

Artacho del Solar sustained an MCL tear in Round One of worlds, missing World Tour events between July and October and fought through a strained abdominal which she sustained during the quarterfinals of the three-star event in China last month, but the injuries weren't enough to knock the top-seeded team off the podium of the four-star event.


In winning their sixth World Tour gold medal, the duo came from behind three times in three matches in Chetumal, defeating China's Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia in the finals 15-21, 21-14, 15-12 and maintained an undefeated streak for the event, beating their Chinese competitors for the fifth time over the World Tour.

"We've played them (China) a lot and we know they're a really good team," Artacho del Solar said of their win.

"We didn't start well, but for us, it was about being patient, sticking to our game plan and believing we could turn things around.

"To win this tournament meant a lot to us."

Their final result will add 800 points to their world and Olympic ranking totals in a positive step towards Tokyo 2020 qualification.

Clancy commended her teammate on her recovery and was proud of what they had been able to achieve together this season.

"Unfortunately we were forced to take some time off due to Mariafe's injury, but her rehab went so well that I think she came back even stronger," she said.

"I'm so proud of her and what we could do as a team in 2019. It's amazing that we managed to pick up right where we left off.

"I felt our game was flowing really well and it's great that we managed to end the year on a high."

Australia exit Premier12 debut with high hopes for the future

Submitted by admin on Mon, 11/18/2019 - 09:34
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Australia Premier12 - Baseball Australia
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Manager David Nilsson says there is a mix of emotions after Team Australia bowed out of Premier12 against Chinese Taipei yesterday, missing out on the bronze medal match. 

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A 5-1 loss – on four runs in the eighth inning – denied Australia a spot in the bronze medal game against Mexico in its tournament debut.

Nilsson said the team was feeling a mixture of emotions following the loss at Tokyo Dome.

“There’s a lot of disappointment about the result of the game,” he said.

“There are a lot of emotions about some of the results but I think we’ve been in every game and at some stage of every game, we’ve had an opportunity to win.

“As we continue to improve as a team I think our results will improve as well.

“(But) I’m really proud of the way Team Australia played.”

Australia made its Premier12 debut after missing out on the inaugural event for the world’s top-12 nations in 2015.



The world number seven advanced to the super round following a thrilling win in its opening round finale against Canada in South Korea.

Australia downed the US 2-1 in a historic win on Wednesday and dropped a one-run battle to world number one Japan as it finished sixth overall.

Nilsson said the overall Premier12 experience had been a positive for Australian baseball.

“We’ve had some good moments and some disappointing moments,” he said.

“As a nation we’re just trying to build.

“More exposure for us as a team to that level of competition is only going to make us better.”

Nilsson said Australia would take plenty of valuable lessons from the tournament.

“There’s always learning points at every tournament you play in and every game you play,

“As the head coach, over the next few days I’ll get with my coaches and we’ll reflect a lot.

“One (challenging) thing is the travel, and coordinating the travel, and preparing the team to make sure our players are as prepared as they can be.

“And then learning to hit against the better pitchers in the world is always tough.”



Logan Wade’s homer took Australia into the eighth inning tied with Chinese Taipei yesterday in a must-win clash.

But Chinese Taipei scored four late runs to eliminate Australia and set up a Mexico and US bronze medal game.

“It was very well pitched from both teams,” Nilsson said.

“There were a lot of opportunities for batters but ultimately Chinese Taipei got the big hit at the end and broke it open.”

With a final chance for Australia to qualify at a global qualification tournament in March next year, strong performances like the team’s historic 2-1 win over USA on Wednesday will give the team confidence.

Baseball Australia

Olympics Unleashed wins community Spirit Award

Submitted by admin on Fri, 11/15/2019 - 10:52
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Olympics Unleashed - Kevin Thompson NSWIS CEO, Steve Solomon Olympic runner and James Edwards, AOC Head of Community Engagement and Olympian Services
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Olympics Unleashed, presented by Optus, has won the 7 News Community Spirit Award at the 2019 New South Wales Institute of Sport Awards in Sydney overnight.

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The program, which takes Olympians and athletes aspiring for Tokyo 2020 and beyond into schools across the country to motivate them to find their passion and unleash their potential, was rewarded for the positive impact athletes are making across the state.

Olympics Unleashed has already taken elite athletes into the Year 9 classrooms of more than 22 000 students from 180 schools across New South Wales to inspire them to overcome challenges, build resilience and chase their goals.

AOC CEO Matt Carroll said the award highlights the positive impact Olympians are having each day in Australian communities.

“This award is great recognition of the incredible work Olympians and aspiring Olympians are doing in the community,” Mr Carroll said.

“The AOC is committed to use the spirit of the Olympics and the power of sport to inspire young people to be their best. 

“Olympians have inspiring stories that go beyond sport. An Olympic journey is never a straight line – having athletes sharing their stories, including the challenges and how they overcame them, is a vital lesson that can help young people no matter what their passion.


“Thank you to the NSW Government, NSWIS and our Olympic Partner Optus for their ongoing support, making it possible to use the Olympic spirit to inspire young students throughout the state.” 

The program, aimed at Year 9 students in New South Wales, is free for schools and available to every secondary school across the state.

Olympic 400m runner Steve Solomon has been visiting schools across the state in between training and competing on the journey to Tokyo 2020.

“It was an honour to accept this award on behalf all athletes that are part of the Olympics Unleashed program,” Solomon said.


“Unleashed is one of the best things I’ve ever been involved in – to be able to go into schools and relate to students with our stories, our goals, our challenges and fears and how they can use that themselves is a great opportunity. You can see it in the kids’ eyes that they’re relating to the message.”

Solomon also valued the connection with communities across the state Olympics Unleashed is fostering for elite athletes.

“Being able to give back to the community is a huge motivator, and gives us a tangible feeling of what we can achieve. 

“To be able to step back and look at the goals we’re fighting for, not just the highs but how scary it can be trying to be the best in the world, is a really humbling experience for me and can really connect with the students.”

Dual Olympian Alexandra Croak, who represented Australia as a gymnast at Sydney 2000 and in diving at Beijing 2008, is one of the dozens of New South Wales athletes trained to deliver Olympics Unleashed.


“I’m chuffed to be part of Olympics Unleashed, and it’s great to be rewarded with the Community Spirit Award tonight,” Croak said. 

“There’s been really positive feedback from the schools, and the engagement with the students at every visit has been fantastic – they’re so switched on and are so keen to take a lot out of the program.

“To be part of an athlete group across different sports, Games and experience all working together on this fantastic program and know we’re contributing back to the community is really satisfying.”

A wrap of the evening and award winners can be found HERE

Olympics Unleashed is free for schools and open to schools right across the state. It is currently available for Year 9 in New South Wales, as well as Years 4-6 in Queensland and Years 9 and 4-6 in the ACT. You can find out more and register your school at www.olympicsunleashed.com.au.

Olympic Champions take top honours at NSWIS Awards

Submitted by admin on Fri, 11/15/2019 - 09:20
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Cate Campbell - Getty Images
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Current world and Olympic champions were among the biggest winners at the 2019 NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) Awards, while the AOC's Olympics Unleashed program awarded the 7News Spirit of Sport award at Royal Randwick Racecourse.

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Swimming superstar Cate Campbell and sailing phenomenon Tom Burton walked away with the highly coveted female and male athlete awards respectively at the annual event which celebrated the Institute’s biggest achievers for 2019 on Thursday evening.

Since transitioning to NSWIS in January, Campbell has progressed impressively at the new Northern Metro High Performance Hub.
 

Twelve world cup medals for the season was followed by five podiums at the FINA World Aquatic Championships in July. Her substantial medal haul, including two world championship relay titles, were enough for Cate Campbell to be named the Office of Sport Female Athlete of the Year. 

The three-time Olympian was humbled to receive the award following her incredible year in the pool.

“I feel extremely honoured and privileged to be the recipient of this award” an elated Campbell said. 

“I’d like to extend a huge thank you to the NSWIS team and Swimming NSW. I have received such a warm welcome and, for a Queenslander, I wasn’t really expecting it.

“I can’t wait to see what preparations through to 2020 are going to look like wearing a blue cap.” 

One of the most hotly contested categories in recent memory saw Campbell pip a field of champions to the accolade which included dual track cycling world champion Ashlee Ankudinoff and two-time canoe slalom world cup series champion Jessica Fox.

Meanwhile Rio 2016 Olympic Men’s Laser (sailing) Champion Tom Burton took out the  Male Athlete of the Year category after claiming a maiden world championship title in July. 


“It’s a great honour, firstly be nominated but also to win the award” Burton said.

“There are a lot of top athletes in NSW and I think they all did a really good job so it is a real honour to win.

“The World Championships was the last big win I needed and it was a great feeling.
“The Worlds was the one that I really wanted to get. Winning left me speechless and it was a moment I really wanted to savour”.

The 7News Spirit of Sport award, which acknowledges NSWIS athletes, coaches and staff who have demonstrated the ‘spirit of sport’ over the past year, was won by the Australian Olympic Committee’s Olympics Unleashed program.

The award is the only publicly voted on category of the NSWIS Awards and this year celebrated the positive impact athletes are having in the community, with the Olympics Unleashed program sending athletes into schools to speak to students across the state.

You can find the AOC's proud response to receiving the award HERE

In positive signs for the future of the sport, the sailing duo of Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympian Will Cooley and Rebecca Hancock were named the Junior Athletes of the Year after claiming gold at the 2019 Hempel Youth Sailing Championships in July.

NSWIS CEO Kevin Thompson spoke proudly of the night’s honourees in a year where the Institute’s athletes, coaches and support staff are firmly focused on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“In 2019, NSWIS boasts a total of 14 world championship titles across eight different sports,” he stated.

“I cannot speak highly enough about the effort and commitment shown by our athletes, coaches and support staff so it’s great to come together tonight and celebrate what has been a fantastic year of results.”



The NSWIS Swimming program was one of the night’s biggest winners being named the Sydney Olympic Park Authority Program of the Year while head coach of the Northern Metro Swimming Hub, Simon Cusack, picked up the Southern Design Coach of the Year.

In a first for the awards, para triathlete Lauren Parker was honoured in the Ian Thorpe AM Outstanding Achievement category for a second consecutive year.  The Award once again recognised Parker’s ongoing battle to overcome her tragic training accident in 2017, with Parker ending the 2019 season as a world champion.

In the night’s other awards, Australian rower Harriet Hudson was presented with the University of Sydney Academic Excellence award while track star Nicholas Hough received the Personal Excellence award following the growth of his own start-up company, ‘GradeProof’.

Since its establishment in 1996, the NSW Institute of Sport has helped to support 190 athletes win a total of 257 summer Olympic and Paralympic medals and looks set to add significantly to the tally in 2020.

NSWIS

Tokyo Unleashed Podcast: Rachael Lynch

Submitted by admin on Wed, 11/13/2019 - 15:18
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Rachael Lynch - Tokyo Unleashed
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The Hockeyroos are one of Australia's most successful sporting teams as three-time consecutive Olympic Champions in Seoul 1988, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 and since then, the squad hasn't finished outside of the top six.

David Culbert spoke with 12-year veteran goalkeeper and Rio 2016 Olympian Rachael Lynch about the unpredictable nature of sport along with how she manages to keep her head in the game ahead of Tokyo 2020. Although her team has secured their ticket to Tokyo, a player's spot on the squad is never guaranteed with Lynch missing out on selection twice in her career.

The Hockeyroos shot-stopper shared her journey from missing out on the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games where she was the youngest in the squad, to London 2012 where she was unable to make the most of her opportunities and missed out on Olympic selection for a second time. 

Lynch is now a 200-plus game stalwart for her country and while balancing her role of being a nurse, she is looking towards her second Olympic Games and Olympic gold.

You can hear more from Olympic athletes and Tokyo 2020 hopefuls below.

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Olympic Unleashed nominated for NSWIS Spirit of Sport Award

Submitted by admin on Wed, 11/13/2019 - 14:47
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OU Declan Stacey
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Last week, Olympics Unleashed was nominated for NSWIS's 7News Spirit of Sport Award, as one of three programs that have embodied the ‘Spirit of Sport’ (great sportsmanship, generosity or selflessness in connection to a sporting endeavour) over the past year.

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Olympics Unleashed, presented by Optus was implemented with the goal of inspiring kids to unlock their passion and follow their dreams. The program utilises both Olympians and Olympic hopefuls as motivational speakers in schools, but Olympics Unleashed has inspired Australia’s athletes just as much in their own journeys.

You can vote for Olympics Unleashed HERE

Twenty-six-year-old Declan Stacey is one of Olympic Unleashed’s athlete speakers and after a successful career in gymnastics where he won bronze at the junior Commonwealth Games at 18, Stacey made the tough decision to transition to diving four years later.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Today I started back up in the #olympicsunleashed program where I share my story in schools and offer some important life lessons along the way. I have 10 more speaking engagements coming up over the next month and would love to speak at your event, function, workplace, business conference, school or the like; so please get in touch if you’re looking for a motivational speaker. My desired outcome for these engagements is that the audience would see through my message and be challenged to reflect upon where they’re at in order to make positive change. I want the love and value that I have for people, regardless of how special they may or may not be, to be communicated so that they feel empowered to unlock their potential in life and become the best version of themselves. I’m passionate about uplifting others and believe I can add value to your work space if you have me speak at your event. Email me at declan.stacey@outlook.com. @ausolympicteam @nswinstituteofsport @theais_ #lovepeople #serveothers #liftothersup #motivationalspeaking #findyourpassion #unlockyourpotential #athleteambassador

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Although he performed well as a gymnast and was “great at twisting, tumbling, somersaults and backflips” Stacey’s gut told him that his arms were too short for the pommel horse, therefore ruling him out of his dream, to represent Australia at an Olympic Games.
 
Against the advice of those around him, the then 22-year-old left behind a full scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport and took up diving.

Despite what others told him, Stacey knew that diving was a sport that could draw on his greatest strengths and provide him with the opportunity for Olympic contention.

It took starting from scratch and having to train with seven-year-olds, but his gamble paid off.


Two years after making the switch, Stacey won diving bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games with teammate Domonic Bedggood in the Men’s Synchronised 10m Platform and is now a Tokyo 2020 Olympic hopeful.

Through Olympics Unleashed, Stacey is using his experience to encourage students to unlock their own passion, back themselves and follow their dreams.

“Being involved in Olympics Unleashed was a real no-brainer for me,” Stacey said.



“I’ve got quite a passion for inspiring people, especially young kids. I’ve been through a lot in my career as an athlete, have learned some great lessons and really want to give back and help others.”

The Wahroonga, NSW local believes that relatability is the key to helping these students find the confidence to pursue their own goals.
 
“I struggled as a teenager and didn’t make the best decisions. I was afraid of what people thought of me, so I feel like I am relatable in that way,” he explained.

“But now I’ve come out the other end and am living my dreams and there is no reason that they can’t either.



“I want to inspire kids to unlock their passion and not be deterred or put down by what other people think they should do. I want them to back themselves and create their own future.”

So far, Stacey has visited 11 schools across NSW, from Nambucca, to Coffs Harbour leaving an impression on both students and teachers as he speaks candidly about how important decision making and goal setting has been in his journey towards Tokyo.

“The main message I try to get across is around decision making. I talk to the students about how I personally switched from gymnastics to diving at 22, which is an age that most people would consider late to start a new sport.

“I explained how it was a really big decision for me and that they are entering a stage of their lives where they can start to make decisions for themselves that will lead them on a path to where they want to go and who they want to be in life.

“I also make sure they know that it won’t be easy, and you have to be comfortable with failure. 



“Success doesn’t look like an Instagram account, it’s not pretty and you need to be great at failing.”

As a consequence, Olympics Unleashed has also helped Stacey unlock his own passion, wanting to take his speaking to the next level.

“Seeing how engaged these kids are and being able to relate to them on a personal level is so rewarding,” he said.

“I’ll have students come up and talk to me one on one, asking for advice about things that they’re going through and I make sure they know that I was once there too.

“When I was younger I’d look up to athletes, not knowing that one day I would be in their shoes, so now being in that position where I can help them out is exactly what I would have wanted at their age.

“Personally, I just get so much out of knowing that I can help and inspire someone else and it’s something I’ve decided to do a lot more of when I launch my motivational speaking business.”



And the feedback from those who have listened to Stacey speak act as a glowing testament to his ability to inspire those around him with the Nambucca Heads School Counsellor praising both Stacy and the program.

“The students and staff at Nambucca Heads High were practically spellbound listening to Declan talk about his journey and some key concepts of passion, goal setting, commitment, perseverance, resilience, humility and failure.

“The kids loved wearing his medals, chatting to him after and asking questions which he happily answered, the only negative was that we wanted him to stay and hear more.

Concord High School's Year 9 advisor also agreed.

"I spoke to many students after Declan's talk and their feedback was really positive. His words really infused a new sense of self-belief and many said that they now have the motivation to push themselves more and work harder on achieving personal goals. The presentation was engaging and clearly highlighted that hard work, dedication, resilience and especially perseverance is the recipe for success."
 

There are currently over 100 athletes involved in the program with 936 schools registered and over 100,000 students having participated in Olympics Unleashed. 

You can vote for Olympics Unleashed HERE, until November 14. Voting will remain open until 30 minutes prior to the award announcement on the night.

Olympics Unleashed is free for schools, with the support of the NSW Government, presenting partner Optus and the Australian Olympic Committee.

You can find out more and register your school at www.olympicsunleashed.com.au

Liana Buratti

Jockey

Submitted by admin on Wed, 11/13/2019 - 13:26
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At Jockey we have a proud history of supporting greatness. In 1969 we designed underwear for the first astronauts on the moon. Now we’re creating underwear for tomorrow’s champions.

Jockey are proud to be the official underwear supplier of the 2020 Australian Olympic team, supporting an incredible group of inspirational athletes as they take on the world’s best.   

The Jockey Behind Greatness Campaign supports our Aussie athletes on their strive to achieve one of the greatest accolades of all and we wish each and every one of them every success.

Matildas claim back-to-back victory and make history in Chile friendlies

Submitted by admin on Wed, 11/13/2019 - 10:42
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Matildas - Football Federation Australia
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In their first international clash since the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in June, the Matildas took on Chile in a two-match international friendly where the Aussies reigned victorious 2-1 and 1-0.  

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The victories capped off a history-making week for the Matildas who, after the announcement of a new equal pay deal, broke the record for highest-attended women's football international game in Australian history.


In true Sam Kerr style, the former Perth Glory captain found the back of the net within the first four minutes of Game One against Chile. 

It wasn't long before the record-breaking 20,029 crowd were delighted again by the superstar, who claimed her second goal in the second half.

It was in the 72nd minute that Kerr's second goal against Chile took her 2019 total for club and country t0 40 goals in 40 appearances and secured the win for her team, 2-0. 


Defender and former AFLW player Jenna McCormick also made her international debut, after seven seasons in the W-League and a code switch to give herself the best run at representing Australia on the Olympic stage.

The 25-year-old described her first cap as highly emotional.

"It was really overwhelming, I felt a lot of emotions from the beginning of the day until now. I'm still feeling it," she said.

"I still can't really put it into words, but I'm just so grateful to have this opportunity.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Soaking in your Westfield @matildas debut. Congratulations, @jennamccormick__. #WeAreMatildas

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"To be able to share the field with some of the best and for them to believe in me is a very, very special thing for me," McCormick continued.

"It's something I don't take for granted. I really wanted to be able to wear this jersey and this crest and to sing the National Anthem and hope I did everyone proud."

The attendance at Bankwest, Parramatta, eclipsed the former record of 16,829 set in Newcastle in 2017 by over 19%, in a positive sign of growing support for the Australian Women's National Football Team.

In Game Two, the Aussie squad played their first game in South Australia in 13 years, treating fans to a tight and physical 1-0 win. The crowd of 10,342 was double the largest ever recorded in South Australia for a women's football international.

It was in the 23rd minute that Emily Gielnik scored Australia's only goal, but it was enough to claim the win, with the scores settling 1-0 and the Matildas claiming bragging rights for the series overall.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

GOAAALLL! ⚽️ @emilygielnik makes it 1-0 in Adelaide. #WeAreMatildas 🎥: @foxfootballaus

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The friendlies were the first games the Matildas have played since their untimely exit from the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in the Round of 16 when they lost to Norway in a penalty shootout, along with their first win and were also the first fixtures they've played on home soil since the Cup of Nations in March 2019.

Attacker Hayley Raso said the history-making event is a great indication of where women's football is heading.

"It was really nice to play in front of 20,000 people at home. It's been a while, that last time we played was at the World Cup, so it was nice to just play on home soil," she said.

"The support has been incredible, the demand around us with equal pay and just everything is incredible.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What a way to cap off 2019. #WeAreMatildas

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"For us to get that support, it's just amazing to see where women's football is going and hopefully it keeps growing from here."

The Matildas next biggest challenge will be Tokyo 2020 qualification, with the Olympic qualifiers against Chinese Taipei, Thailand and China due to take place in February 2020 and Head Coach Ante Milicic is keen to keep a tight group ahead of Tokyo with each player needing to earn their spot.

"Going to the Olympics, we're going with 18 so let's be realistic about that."

He acknowledged there was plenty to work on, but considering the last time every player last played competitive football was some time ago, (most being in pre-season) he is confident more minutes would lead to a stronger, more cohesive team.

"January will be a different scenario for us. If you compare now to when we get together again in January, the amount of games and match minutes the players will get will automatically put them in better shape and better condition than what they were today.

"Preparation has already begun."

Liana Buratti

Mariafe Artacho del Solar spends 'dream' day with young fan

Submitted by admin on Tue, 11/12/2019 - 15:03
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Mariafe and Lauren - Supplied
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Mariafe Artacho del Solar recently turned the unfortunate circumstance of injury into a dream come true for 12-year old Lauren, when recovery time meant the chance for her to connect with her biggest fan.

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The dynamic beach volleyball duo of Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy will kick off their final tournament of the season this week at the FIVB four-star World Tour event in Chutemal, Mexico.

It’s been a bumpy road to this tournament after a torn MCL in Round One of the World Cup meant Artacho del Solar was temporarily out of action.


While she pushed through her six-week recovery, the Rio Olympian made the most of her time back home by doing something she loves just as much as competing and giving one young fan the experience of a lifetime.

Year 6 student Lauren Waterman started following Artacho del Solar after watching her and Clancy play at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The team had only come together in 2017 and had enjoyed much success.

It was on the Gold Coast that Waterman was lucky enough to witness the pair secure Commonwealth Games silver, after going down to Canada in the final.



It was her “powerful and super-accurate serve” that Lauren admired on the court, but off the court, it was the way Artacho del Solar interacted with her fans on social media, “helping them to have a positive attitude and always have goals.”

The young Victorian was herself a keen volleyballer and was recently granted a scholarship at the Maribyrnong Sports Academy in Melbourne. To reward her for her efforts, Lauren’s mum, Vikki arranged a birthday surprise she would never forget.

“Lauren was determined to do well in her application for the Maribyrnong Sports Academy, never missing a training session or game and trying to get as many touches of the volleyball as she could.


“Lauren’s efforts paid off and she received an offer for Year 7, 2020,” Vikki said.

“Mariafe has always been Lauren’s idol. They chatted briefly on Instagram where she gave Lauren tips on volleyball along with some kind words of encouragement. 

“She looks up to her so much, so I reached out to Mariafe’s manager to ask if she did any meet and greets.”

Mariafe was more than willing to oblige, so the proud mum arranged to fly Lauren from Victoria to South Australia for her birthday.



“Myself and Lauren’s step-father Matt, gave Lauren a card saying how proud we were of her and as a congratulatory gift, we had arranged for her to meet Mariafe Artacho Del Solar,” Vikki explained.

Enclosed in the card was a plane ticket for Lauren and a photo of her standing with Mariafe’s cardboard cut-out from the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“Lauren didn’t believe it, she looked at me confused but once she realised it was real, she was lost for words and started to cry.”



Lauren said the thought of meeting her idol was a dream a come true.

“I was in shock and utter disbelief when I found out I was meeting Mariafe,” the 12-year-old said. 

“It didn’t feel real, I felt like I was dreaming, but once I realised it was real, I cried happy tears! I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would get to meet my idol.”

Lauren and Vikki arrived in South Australia where they watched Artacho del Solar train before spending the day together.


“While I was waiting to meet Mariafe, my heart was racing a million miles an hour, I had butterflies in my stomach and felt like I was on a rollercoaster,” Lauren said

“But when she arrived, it finally felt real. She gave me a big, warm hug and I was just lost for words, until we got talking and it felt like we had known each other forever! 

“She was so easy to talk to. We chatted about volleyball, school, life, goals and achievements.”

Lauren quizzed Mariafe with an impromptu interview on how she got to where she is today, before they had a hit out on the court.



The youngster called it “the best day ever” when referring to the time she spent with her idol, but Mariafe explained that these moments are just as special to her, as an athlete.

“I know it meant a lot to her, but it means so much to me as well,” the 2019 World Championship bronze medallist said. 

“To be able to have that impact on a young girl is so amazing and it is the reason that I do, what I do.

“Being able to inspire someone is such a special part of being an athlete, even if it’s just one person, knowing you’ve made a difference in that person’s life is just amazing.



“My view is that if someone takes the time to write to me, ask me for advice on social media and look up to me so much that they want to meet me, they obviously care about me and I want to return that.”

Artacho del Solar says her attitude and behaviour on the court is just as important off it and her behaviour is a result of watching those who have come before her.

“Being a good role model is my aim in everything I do. I make sure I’m professional on and off the court and on social media,” she said. 

“Growing up my role models had similar ways of carrying themselves. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

1 Year To Go!! 😁🙈🇦🇺 Make everyday count 💪🏾 #TokyoTogether #tokyo2020

A post shared by Mariafe Artacho del Solar (@mariafe_beach1) on



“I’ve always looked up to Roger Federer because he’s an athlete who despite being one of the greatest of all time, remains humble, modest, respectful and polite and that’s how I want to be remembered,” the 26-year-old explained.

“I try to make time for anyone who reaches out to me and most of the questions I get asked are around believing in yourself. 

“I told Lauren that you will get knocked down, there will be people who don’t believe in you and everyone has those experiences, including me,” she said.

“I explained that I decided early on that no one was going to stop me from achieving my dreams, I had my goals and I was stubborn about them. The motto I have always gone by is, ‘don’t let anyone or anything stand in the way of your dreams.’

“Being able to help people brings me a lot of happiness, everyone needs a bit of guidance and I’m a big believer in spreading the love!”

Artacho del Solar and Clancy will play in their final tournament of the season from 12-18 November. You can follow along and catch all the action HERE

You can learn more about Mariafe's journey HERE

Liana Buratti