#OlympicTakeover with Taliqua Clancy

Submitted by admin on Wed, 06/10/2020 - 09:05
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Taliqua Olympic Takeover
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Taliqua Clancy became the first Indigenous Australia to compete in Olympic beach volleyball when she made her debut at Rio 2016.

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Now, the 27-year-old makes up half of Australia’s top ranked beach volleyball team, alongside her partner Mariafe Artacho del Solar, aiming for a second Olympic Games at Tokyo next year.

Clancy is currently in Adelaide, shivering through her first Australian winter in seven years, as she usually spends this time of the year competing on the FIVB circuit in Europe.

While she stays strong in her home gym and makes the most of the Adelaide’s sandy spots for training, Clancy has also used her time at home during COVID-19 to share her story as one of 52 Indigenous Olympians with her local community.

She took over the @AUSOlympicTeam Instagram story last week during National Reconciliation Week 2020 to give followers a sneak peek into a day in her life.

Aussie Olympic community share their #OlympicDayGoals progress

Submitted by admin on Tue, 06/09/2020 - 13:15
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Cate Campbell and Mark Beretta try Japanese Calligraphy
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After it's launch on 1 June, the #OlympicDayGoals campaign is in full swing, with athletes, sports and fans pledging goals and sharing their progress ahead of Olympic Day on June 23.

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Paddle Australia's Alyce Wood shared her newfound ukelele skills, while Aly Bull practiced her football tekkers.

Cat McArthur tried some handstand walking and junior paddler Jenaya Massie challenged herself with doing 16 consecutive chin-ups.

Kayaker Jaime Roberts dusted off her piano and committed to learning Beethoven's, 'Fur Elise.'

Australia's WAIS athletes also shared their pledges on Instagram which ranged from yoga to puppy push-ups, and from juggling to cooking arancini!


Aerial Skier David Morris pledged to perfect the planche by June 23, a goal that five-year-old Sam also set himself to master.


Little Sam wasn't the only young gun setting himself some #OlympicDayGoals, with St Joseph's Barcaldine school pledging some educational, artistic and sporting goals.

Four-year-old gymnast Ivy, also set herself a goal of pike climbing six feet by June 23.


Dual Olympic Champion Cate Campbell teamed up with Sunrise presenter, Mark Beretta, to get acquainted with some Japanese calligraphy ahead of Tokyo 2020 next year.

 

Seoul 1988 Olympic cyclist Julie Speight set herself the impressive goal of riding 30km in one go for the first time since having a rod inserted into her leg.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

#olympicdaygoals One Week in @ausolympicteam forever an inspiration

A post shared by Julie Speight (@cyclepathcity) on

 

Plus WA's Artistic Swimmers have set themselves a team challenge of passing a chair over as many lane ropes as possible.

 

While Diving Australia's Annabelle Smith set a goal of completing a press to handstand without jumping.

Find out more about #OlympicDayGoals at www.olympics.com.au/olympic-day-2020.

Pledge your own goal on social media, tagging #OlympicDayGoals and @AUSOlympicTeam, and encourage your family and friends to set their own goals to achieve by 23 June. 

Follow along on InstagramFacebook and Twitter as Olympians and the Australian community reach their goals and celebrate together on Olympic Day 2020.

Postponed Olympics opens new door for Aussie Stingers Hannah Buckling

Submitted by admin on Tue, 06/09/2020 - 09:13
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Hannah Buckling
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Although disappointed that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed, Rio 2016 Olympian Hannah Buckling has returned her focus to her studies, where she is in the process of completing her post-graduate Medicine degree at Sydney University.

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“In 2019 I made the decision to suspend my studies until after the 2020 Olympic Games, as most of my learning is currently taught in a hospital, making it hard to continue to study while travelling,” Buckling said.

“Putting my studies on pause was difficult, but allowed me to give my full attention to Water Polo and prepare with the team for Tokyo.

“But when COVID-19 began, and the closure of pools, inability to train and the suspension of the Olympics, I found myself with an opportunity to return to study," she continued.

“I am now back studying full-time until the end of the year and I could not be enjoying myself more!

“I am extremely lucky and grateful that Sydney University allowed me to return to the program, and while I have a lot to catch up on, I am really enjoying challenging myself with study again.

“The Sydney University Elite Athlete Program has always been there to help me with balancing my studies and sport, and I am so lucky that they encourage students to pursue goals outside of study."

While Buckling spends her ‘down time’ studying, she said that it is in fact sport that has taught her discipline and the other necessary skills to be able to balance her commitments.

“I believe that sport gives you an incredible set of skills that apply to both studies and career, but also to the ups and downs of life,” Buckling said.

 

“Sport is challenging, both physically and mentally. It stretches you to achieve things you never imagine that you can, and to do so with a team requires another level of dedication.

“Everything I have learnt from sport,  from time management to dedication, resilience, teamwork and goal setting, has helped me with my studies and will continue to help me into my future career as a doctor,” she said.

The 27-year-old had some words of advice for young Water Polo players.

“Sport and study are not mutually exclusive. I have been at university for a long time, and during that I have had people tell me that many things I am trying to do are not possible,” Buckling said.

“At the end of the day, only you know what you are capable of, and I can guarantee you that you will often surprise yourself, I certainly did!

“So push the boundaries on what you think is possible, try and sometimes fail, and make the most of all opportunities that sport and study will present to you.”

Buckling will keep busy with her studies while she continues to look forward to rejoining her Aussie Stingers teammates as restrictions start to ease and high-performance squads look to return to the pool.

Lauren Ryan
Water Polo Australia

AOC congratulates Olympians recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours

Submitted by admin on Mon, 06/08/2020 - 07:22
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Renita Garard of Australia in action during the Telstra Challenge against India, at the Perth Hockey Stadium, Perth, Australia in 1999
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The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has congratulated five Olympians who have been recognised in today’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List. 

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The five are:
•    Renita Garard AM – Hockey
•    Glenn Bourke AM – Sailing 
•    Peta Edebone OAM – Softball
•    Neville Howell OAM– Rowing
•    Miles Stewart OAM – Triathlon

AOC President John Coates AC says not only has each Olympian honoured reached the pinnacle of their individual sports, they have been committed to sport and its benefits throughout their lives.

“My congratulations to each of these Olympians. There are some incredible stories here – stories of rare achievement, of commitment to their sports long after retirement from elite competition and of lifelong devotion to their chosen sport.

“Not only does Renita Garard AM have the distinction of winning two gold medals for the Hockeyroos (Atlanta 1996 & Sydney 2000), she served as a Director of Hockey Australia (2000-2012) and she was also a Member of the International Hockey Federation’s Executive Board (2006-2012) chairing the Athletes’ Committee for four years.  

“Glenn Bourke AM represented Australia at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games in the Finn Class. As a 19-year-old, he was selected then cruelly denied the chance to compete in Moscow in 1980, due to the boycott. His career in sailing has been extraordinary. 

“Three America’s Cup campaigns, three Admiral’s Cup campaigns, twice Australian Yachtsman of the Year, three-time World Laser Champion, an Olympic sailing team selector for London 2012 & Rio 2016 and coach in Atlanta 1996. Plus, he was Venue Manager for sailing in Sydney 2000 as one of his roles with SOCOG. 

“Peta Edebone OAM is a three-time Softball Olympian and three-times medal winner – Atlanta 1996 (bronze), Sydney 2000 (bronze) & Athens 2004 (silver). While captaining the side which scored Australia’s best ever Olympic result in Athens losing the final 5-1 to the USA, Peta lives in the memory as our home run hero in Sydney when she scored 4, equalling the then record for a Games.

“Neville Howell OAM rowed in the Men’s Eight at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, which won a bronze medal, before competing in Rome in the coxed pairs. Neville has continued to row for pleasure and fitness throughout his long life and contributed to the rowing programs at the Banks and Bendigo Rowing Clubs.

“Miles Stewart OAM represented Australia in triathlon when the sport made its Olympic debut at the Sydney 2000 Games. He was the first Australian home finishing sixth. Miles has two world titles to his credit, numerous World Cup wins and a Commonwealth Games silver medal. 

“Like so many Olympians Miles has given back as a member of the Triathlon Australia Board since 2011 and in 2015 he was appointed CEO of Triathlon Australia after a successful career in business.”

Mr Coates also acknowledged recognition for two close friends of the Olympic movement in Australia.

“Graham Richardson AO was a Board member of SOCOG, a Federal Sports Minister and was Mayor of the Olympic Village in the Sydney 2000 Games. I also congratulate Ryan Stokes AO who continues to support and contribute, reappointed this month to the IOC’s Education Committee. 

“It’s through the contribution of these great friends of the Olympic movement that we can ensure that the family of Olympic sports can continue to contribute to Australia through the power of sport."

Hore connects with Hymba Yumba students for Reconciliation Week

Submitted by admin on Fri, 06/05/2020 - 13:43
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COVID-19 hasn’t stopped Olympians connecting with students for Reconciliation Week, with Indigenous Australian boxer Brad Hore sharing his experiences with students at Hymba Yumba Independent School with Olympics Unleashed, presented by Optus.

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In line with social distancing guidelines, Hore connected by video call with the school, in Springfield, Queensland, that offers education grounded in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

 

He spoke to the 50 school students from Years 4-6 over video link and said that although it was different to presenting in person, it was about making the best of the current situation and still communicating those important messages to students.

“It was different not doing things face-to-face, but the kids really seemed to enjoy it,” Hore said.

“We got them up doing some activities like shadow boxing, but, more importantly, we spoke about the meaning of Reconciliation Week.

“I explained to the students that we need to recognise what Reconciliation Week means for us, and especially for our Elders,” he continued.

“We also talked about how important it is to stand up for what you believe in and share your culture with family, friends and especially those who aren’t Indigenous, to help them understand our culture a little bit more.”

Hore used his experience of losing his first ten fights to making the Olympic Games to share with students the importance of overcoming adversity and building resilience when things didn’t go your way.

 

Principal of Hymba Yumba, Peter Foster, said being able to connect with fellow Indigenous role models was important for the students.

“At Hymba Yumba Independent School we strive for our jarjums to see, learn about, yarn with and recognise strong, deadly Indigenous leaders within our community as well as the wider community,” he said.

“It is important for our jarjums to engage with strong Indigenous people who can share their story, including setbacks and how they overcame challenges, as this is a real-life example of resilience.”

Along with having Brad Hore speak, Hymba Yumba partook in other activities to ensure students understood the meaning of Reconciliation Week.

“We celebrated National Reconciliation Week with all-class learning about Sorry Day, Mabo Day, the “Bringing them Home’ Report and the 20th Anniversary of Walk for Reconciliation,” Foster said.

“As a cumulative activity, the whole school listened to stories about the Bridge Walk and marched across our bridge to the community oval with our signs and banners.”

 

Hore was encouraged to see future Indigenous leaders learning and participating in such an important week.

"I told the students I am very proud of my heritage and that they should be proud of where they are from, too," Hore said.

With Australians adapting to social distancing and changes in schools, Olympics Unleashed is now online and ready to connect Olympians and aspiring athletes to schools and students.

The full online program is expected to roll out in Queensland in Term 3, but you can register your school and find out more today at www.olympicsunleashed.com.au 

Olympics Unleashed is free for schools and is supported by the Queensland Government, presenting partner Optus and the Australian Olympic Committee.

Liana Buratti

Vale John Cuneo OAM - Olympic Champion Sailor

Submitted by admin on Thu, 06/04/2020 - 10:35
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John Cuneo and Mat Belcher - Sailing Hall of Fame
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The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has paid tribute to the late John Cuneo, gold medal winner in sailing at the 1972 Olympic Games.

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John Cuneo competed in two Olympic Games – Mexico 1968 and Munich 1972 –won multiple Australian and world championships and he sailed on Southern Cross, the defeated Australian challenger in the 1974 America’s Cup campaign.

But the golden day was in Kiel in 1972.

 

With crewmates Tom Anderson and John Shaw, John Cuneo took out the Dragon Class, setting up their gold medal with consecutive wins in the first three races.

A conservative approach cost them dearly in the fourth race where they finished 19th.

The fifth race was abandoned on a windless day when none of the boats was able to complete the course, and in the next heat, the Australians finished third. By the last race, all they needed to do was finish the race 18th or better. 

They stayed close to the front all the way and finished fourth. “I knew we had the gold medal in the bag after we’d gone 100 yards” Cuneo later said, “It was a piece of cake”. They won gold, 28 points ahead of the East Germans.

AOC Executive Member Matt Allen described John Cuneo as a remarkable sailor.

“Our current Olympians are in awe of what John achieved, along with Tom Anderson and John Shaw. To win the Dragon class at that time was an incredible feat, given the quality of sailors competing at that time. 

“John was absolutely determined to improve on the fifth place in Mexico and they prepared their boat immaculately. Winning those opening three races was quite remarkable.  

John was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1986 and in 2018 into the Australian Sailing Hall of Fame.

John Cuneo OAM, Olympic champion, passed away aged 91 on Tuesday 2 June, 2020. He is survived, by his wife Sylvia and four sons.

Aussie Sharks balance Water Polo, study and work-life

Submitted by admin on Thu, 06/04/2020 - 09:14
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This month, Water Polo Australia has been sharing stories from athletes, past and present, about studies, work-life and managing Water Polo and non-sport careers.

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While all three Aussie Sharks Goal Keepers James Clark, Joel Dennerley and Anthony Hrysanthos are eyeing off selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, they have also been hard at work outside the pool.

JOEL DENNERLEY

Joel Dennerley made his Aussie Sharks debut in 2008, the same year he started his university degree at the University of Southern California, where he studied B.A Human Performance with a Psychology minor.

“I was fortunate enough to attend USC to complete my degree. It is a world-class university and having the opportunity to compete at a high level in the NCAA Championships while also studying was awesome,” Dennerley said.

Since 2008, Dennerley has gone on to earn more than 150 caps for Australia representing his country at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games.  The 32-year-old now works with the global brand  Coca-Cola Amatil as a District Sales Manager.

“I started working at Coca-Cola Amatil in 2013, just after the London 2012 Olympic Games and have continued working there through the last two Olympic cycles.

“I lead a sales team of eight who are responsible for sales and customer relationships across hotels, restaurants and cafes in the Sydney metro area,” he said.

The Dual Olympian stressed the importance of life outside the pool both during and post sporting career.

“Very few people know what work or career they want to pursue once they have finished school or university, so getting work experience, whilst also playing Water Polo is great because it means you can explore options while also putting money in your pocket to live off.

 

“Water Polo in Australia is an amateur sport, so thinking of life outside of the pool both during your playing career and after you have finished, is vital.

Dennerley is extremely grateful to work for Coca-Cola Amatil, a proud sponsor of the Australian Olympic Team and Olympic Games, who support his Water Polo playing career.

“I have been very fortunate with how supportive Coca-Cola Amatil has been in providing me the flexibility to balance my Water Polo commitments and also progress in my career,” Dennerley said.

“Representing Australia can require many weeks and months of training and competition commitments, both in Australia and overseas. So to not only have the ability to take time off when required and have a job to come back to, but also work my way towards career progression is something I am very appreciative of.

“Also with Coca Cola as a major sponsor of the Olympics globally, they are very proud to have one of their own represented on the Olympic stage,” he said.

As Dennerley prepares for a potential third Olympic Games, he had some simple words of advice for young Water Polo athletes.

“Whether you are considering work or study, it is possible to balance your Water Polo career as well,” Dennerley said.

“One really important thing that many athletes learn from a young age is good time management skills, juggling their Water Polo commitments as well as  school, uni, work, family and social obligations along the way.”

“If you are clear and communicate with your employer or school around what commitments are required for Water Polo, and there is sufficient time for them to be planned and organised, then you can achieve that flexibility to make it possible,” he said.

ANTHONY HRYSTANTHOS

Anthony Hrysanthos is the most recent university graduate in the Aussie Sharks squad, having just completed his Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy) at Sydney University. Hrysanthos was also named the Sydney Uni Sport and Fitness 2019 Valedictorian.

“Having a career outside of the water was so important to me, because things don’t always work out (in sport),” Hrysanthos said.

“On the other hand, having something to keep me busy away from the pool and something else to think about was also extremely helpful. It’s good to get your mind off training and Water Polo sometimes.”

As an elite athlete, Hrysanthos understood the importance of physiotherapy and the exposure to that side of sport is something that helped him to learn.

 

“As an athlete being treated by physios my entire career, I know how important the role is.

“Having a passion for sport also made learning that little bit easier.

“I really enjoyed the hands-on element to my degree - I learn best through doing things. But in saying that, when we were travelling away with the Aussie Sharks, it made it a bit more difficult as I was lacking that practical element.”

“So it was important for me to make the most of the time I had on campus and the opportunities to learn in person,” he said.

JAMES CLARK

James Clark is fortunate to be able to travel both with the Aussie Sharks and through his role as a Senior Analyst at Fortius Funds Management.

“At Fortius we purchase and manage commercial real estate on behalf of high network and institutional clients,” Clark said.

“Whilst it is essentially an office job, I enjoy getting out and looking at the buildings we are thinking about buying - we acquire assets all over the country so I’m fortunate to be able to squeeze in a bit of domestic travel.”

“I’m very fortunate that Fortius is understanding and accommodating for my Water Polo commitments.

"It’s not easy for any business to take on elite athletes, yet even as a small and lean business Fortius has set the bar high when it comes to providing support and reassurance.”

 

Clark stressed the importance of attitude and mindset, adding that it is crucial to keep learning.

“Team sport helps you to learn the skills of teamwork, communication and accountability - all things that are just as useful in the water as they are out of the water,” Clark said.

“The big one for me though is learning that you won’t realise your potential by doing the bare minimum.

"I think of it like getting to the pool earlier to warm up properly, or staying in after training to practice shooting - but it also helps if you enjoy what you are doing and I’m lucky to feel that way about work and Water Polo.”

“You should always have a mindset with a focus on willing to learn, rather than the expectation that you should be taught.

“By continually wanting to improve in whatever you do, you’ll be asking questions and draw on the advice from many different people - which is something I’ve found incredibly beneficial.”

Lauren Ryan
Water Polo Australia

Seven-time Equestrian Olympian Andrew Hoy answers all your questions

Submitted by admin on Mon, 06/01/2020 - 12:55
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Andrew Hoy of Australia riding Bloom Des Hauts Crets competes in the Jumping during day three of the Equestrian Tokyo 2020 Test Event at the Equestrian Park on August 14, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images)
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With seven Olympics under his belt and his eighth on the horizon, Equestrian legend Andrew Hoy has knowledge and experience in spades.

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While taking over the @AUSOlympicTeam's Instagram account,  Andrew answered all of your burning questions about Equestrian, eventing, nutrition, advice for riders and his favourite Olympic moments.

How did you get into Equestrian sports?

I grew up just south of a little town called Culcain on the border of NSW and Victoria. As a child, I borrowed a pony from my uncle and started riding around the farm which led to me starting pony club, campdrafting (working cattle on horseback) and then I had a short career in rodeo riding.

I started riding in Equestrian events, then was selected at the age of 19 to go to the 1978 World Championships in the USA.

What is your favourite Olympic memory?

I have been fortunate to have had much success and to have gone to many Olympics, but I would have to say Sydney 2000.

I was part of the team who won gold in eventing and then went on to win individual silver.

Sydney was very, very special and those memories are still very current in my mind. It brought the best out of Australia and the best out of the Australian people.

The volunteers were absolutely fantastic as well as the venues.

Which discipline do you get the most nervous before?

There's the dressage, the cross country and then the showjumping and all nervousness comes from worrying you're not quite prepared.

The discipline that could possibly go wrong, and if it goes wrong, could end up with a major injury or fall would be the cross country.

When we're galloping cross country, we're traveling at around 11 and a half meters per second, so it's actually very fast, but once I actually start, I am so focused on what I'm doing, that I don't have time to think about anything other than what is happening.
 

 

How important is nutrition for your horses?

The same as I'm an athlete and nutrition is important for me, it is important for the horses. 

I work very closely with my feed supplier and they have a very good nutritionist there, but I also work very closely with the with the vets to build a program for the horse.

How do you create a strong bond with your horse?

It's not a spiritual relationship but I do have a very good understanding of what the horse is capable of doing. I also work with a vet who has a very good understanding of the biomechanics and the wellbeing of the horses.

It is something that is very, very important if you want to have any success and when I say success, I mean any understanding of the way a horse or any animal can behave, you have to understand the personalities and work within the abilities of that animal.

What is your best advice for up and coming riders?

No matter what you do in life, if you want to be good, make sure you surround yourself with good people, taking their advice and actually implementing it.

People are very willing to share information if they've been very successful in their life, so if you ask someone for help, they are generally happy to oblige.

It's also about structures, setting up programs and being healthy.
 

 

Who inspires you?

There's been a combination of so many people over the years who have inspired me. Trainers that I've worked with but I would say my biggest supporters and my biggest inspirations have been my parents.

My father just passed away last October, and he gave me much advice even though he was not involved in Equestrian sports.

He had an interest in motor racing when he was young, then farming but grew up as an engineer but gave me a lot of very good advice.

What motivates you to keep competing after so many years?

I've always had an open mind and am always looking at how can I be better.

I focus on myself as an athlete, I go over my performances and identify the things that need to be worked on.

It's also having my support team around me. The people around me need to have ownership as well and feel as if they're part of the success and part of the journey. That's really important and that's what keeps me inspired, trying to keep them inspired.

I'm never thinking, 'Well, I'm now at this age, I should start thinking of retiring,' I'm always looking towards the next thing.

For instance, I'm just about to take possession of a brand new truck and trailer and people have said to me, 'Andrew, you should be starting to slow down,' but I'm not interested in doing that. I'm interested in being out there, I always like to be at the pointy end of whatever I'm doing.

You can hear the rest of Andrew's Q&A in our Instagram video below

 

Olympians encourage Aussies to achieve new goal by Olympic Day

Submitted by admin on Mon, 06/01/2020 - 09:40
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As athletes all over the world are reassessing their Olympic goals, Olympians are encouraging Australians to set their own personal goal to achieve by Olympic Day, 23 June.

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From juggling to learning an instrument or trying a new sport, Australian Olympians are pushing themselves outside their comfort zone – and supporting all Australians to join them in achieving their own #OlympicDayGoals.

Olympic Day is an international celebration developed to promote healthy and active lifestyles, with Olympians around the world celebrating the theme of “Move, Learn, Discover”.

For 2020, Olympic Day has taken on new significance for Australian athletes, who are adapting to a delayed Olympic dream and separation from teammates and normal training environments.


AOC CEO Matt Carroll said Olympic Day is an opportunity to celebrate what Australians love about the Olympics.

“Sport has such a positive effect for health and social connection,” Mr Carroll said. “Together we are coming through these difficult times, and Olympic Day this year highlights the need for the Olympic values of excellence, friendship, respect and solidarity, more than ever. 

“Australians come together every two years to support the Australian Summer and Winter Olympic Teams and Olympic Day is a chance to appreciate what unites us.

“This year, rather than entering final preparations a month out from the Tokyo Olympics, athletes are adapting to working out at home, connecting to teammates by video and coming to terms with a delay to what is a lifelong dream.

“Our Olympians and athletes aspiring to make their Olympic debut have shown incredible resilience, ingenuity and optimism as they reset their goals – and this June we’re encouraging Australians to join in and set themselves a new goal to achieve by Olympic Day.”

Goal-setting cards, social assets, an Olympic Day activity planner of ideas and challenges and additional school resources are available here, to inspire creative goals and challenge Australians in the leadup to Olympic Day.
 
For Rio 2016 Olympian and Tokyo 2020 selected kayaker Alyce Wood, #OlympicDayGoals offers an opportunity to push herself outside her comfort zone.

“Despite not having a musical bone in my body, I’m challenging myself to learn to play the ukulele and belt out a full song with vocals by Olympic Day,” Wood said.


“My dad and brother play the guitar and I’ve always wanted an excuse to join in the family jam sessions – this is a great time to try something new and enjoy testing myself outside of my boat.

“I don’t like to do things in halves and always go full speed. As athletes we’re always impatient, we want things done yesterday, but with a new goal I need to have some patience.

“I think you can grow the most if you push yourself outside of your comfort zone – I feel like I’m an expert on my boat, but I know nothing about a ukulele. To give that a crack, I have to let down the barriers and let people in to give their insight.

“For anyone out there setting your own Olympic Day goal - pick something you’ll find enjoyment in and surround yourself with that enjoyment, both the successes and the failures. I’ll be on Facetime with my family, [husband] Jordan having a good laugh, reaching little goals and finding the joy in it.

With Alyce and Jordan Wood both selected for Tokyo 2020, setting goals and adapting to fluctuating circumstances has been a key part of adapting to the delayed Games.

“If you set a goal you can then create a clear path to get there, otherwise you’re just wandering.  If you have that end goal set, you can change directions, go backwards, see what works, and come back to your goal without ever getting lost,” Alyce said.
 

 

“At the end of the day, my overall goal for Tokyo hasn’t changed, only the timeline has. I’m flipping it to a positive to see it as a really good reset.”

If her goal to belt out a full song on the ukulele by 23 June doesn’t quite go to plan, Wood knows she can always rely on some help from a teammate to get her through.

“Josie Bulmer (canoeist and fellow Tokyo 2020 selected athlete) has a great voice – even if I can’t nail singing while playing, I can call on Josie to help me reach my goal and do vocals while I play. I’m sure anyone listening will appreciate that too!”

Find out more about #OlympicDayGoals at www.olympics.com.au/olympic-day-2020. Pledge your own goal on social media, tagging #OlympicDayGoals and @AUSOlympicTeam, and encourage your family and friends to set their own goals to achieve by 23 June. 

Follow along on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as Olympians and the Australian community reach their goals and celebrate together on Olympic Day 2020.

Laura Coles navigates career crossroads to realise Olympic goal

Submitted by admin on Mon, 06/01/2020 - 09:06
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Laura Coles of Australia competes in the womens skeet qualifying at Barry Buddon Shooting Centre during day two of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games on July 25, 2014 in Carnoustie, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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As a young girl growing up on her family’s property in Busselton, 222 kilometres south of Perth, Laura Coles would idle the hours away riding her Quarterhorse, Lady, and dreaming of becoming an Olympic equestrian rider. Even at such a young age, Coles had developed an inner drive and ambition to excel.

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The roadway to success is often littered with potholes and pitfalls, but also with life-defining opportunities which can carve out a new, exciting direction.

When she was aged 15, her grandfather, Ray Worthington, gave her dad, Glenn, a bunch of guns to safely store in his gun safe. Among those was an SKB trap shotgun. Glen decided to attend the local range for a shoot and, soon after, Laura joined him.

“I was awful at it. I was really, really bad,” she recalled. “I had a go at DTL (Down The Line) and I hit three of 25 targets. I think it was the worst I’ve ever seen someone come and start off. But I really liked it. Everyone at the club was very welcoming,” she said.

Regardless of the result, young Laura was hooked and, soon after, she was introduced to skeet shooting. Saddles and stirrups were soon replaced by cartridges and clays.

“I always struggled with DTL. I don’t think I read a target that’s going directly away from me all that well. I much prefer reading a target that’s crossing directly in front of me rather than going away from me,” she explained.

Despite the change of sport, Coles’ Olympic dreams continued to burn away. She had seen her uncle’s cousin, Fabrice Lapierre, climbed through the ranks as one of the world’s best long jumpers to win a bronze medal at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games before winning selection for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. A gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games followed.

But being based in Western Australia, a state with limited shooting pedigree, was difficult for Coles. The main competitions and expert coaches were, and continue to be, located on the eastern seaboard requiring regular long and expensive travel costs.

Physically, Coles also appears to be at a disadvantage. Standing a mere 1.57m and weighing less than 50kgs, Coles’ tiny physique would be more familiar in silks in the mounting yards of Ascot, Flemington or Royal Randwick racecourses rather than on the shotgun range lugging a four-kilogram shotgun and firing off an energy-sapping 75 targets at a time under a blazing sun.

But by 2011, Coles had climbed through the ranks and entered the international competition scene when selected to represent Australia at the 2011 Oceania Championships in Sydney where she won the silver medal. Further World Cup meets followed in Sydney and Maribor in Slovenia plus the World Championship in Belgrade, Serbia.

In 2014, Coles won Australian team selection for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and captured the gold medal.
 

 

“I had a great run into Glasgow. I had a great year in terms of domestic performance, and everything fell into line going on that pathway to Glasgow and obviously I had a great day on the day as well,” she said.

Although she eventually climbed to the top of the dais, self-doubt quickly filled her mind after missing the target with her first shot.

“I thought ‘oh God, here we go’ and I thought I was going to have a terrible day. I decided, you know what, that’s okay. It’s a wonderful thing just to have made a Commonwealth Games and I’m just going to enjoy this and go with it. And from there on in, it was actually a great experience because I just enjoyed it and obviously the results spoke for itself,” she said.

Two years later, Coles was the favourite to win the sole Australian Olympic team skeet quota position for the 2016 Rio Games but was overlooked for Victoria’s Aislin Jones. Shooting Australia had adopted a “sole discretion” selection policy at that time and a shattered Coles unsuccessfully appealed her non-selection.

With her Olympic dreams in tatters, Coles’ career was at the crossroads. Should she continue to shoot, or unload the shells and walk away?

She didn’t want to live with any regrets, so she dusted herself off and won selection for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games but didn’t qualify for the final.

“I never wanted my disappointments or my lows to define my career,” she said. “If I was to stop shooting, I would want to stop it for the right reasons. I didn’t want to look back and think what if I kept going, could I have done this. That’s why I kept going.”

“It took me quite a few years to get over that (Rio) disappointment. I don’t think I was quite over it by the time of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. I think that really showed in my performance,” she added.

For the Tokyo Olympics, Shooting Australia’s selection policy changed where the athlete who topped the four-event nomination series would be automatically nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

So this stuff turned up today. Better late than never. Making an Olympic team is a dream come true. I told my mum when I was 5 years old that I wanted to go to the Olympics. I actually thought that this would be in equestrian but when my grandfather gave a shotgun to my dad that all changed. I started shooting American Skeet and had success at state and national levels and then I decided to give ISSF Skeet a go. Lots of people told me that I shouldn’t do it. I would ruin my American Skeet and besides it was too hard to be successful when you live in Western Australia and I was too small. There was so many reasons why I couldn’t or shouldn’t do it. I’m so glad I didn’t let my failures define me and so thankful for everyone who has helped me get this far in my journey especially Nick who has been my rock and I couldn’t have done this without him ❤️. Thanks to my Perazzi family (Mauro Perazzi, Filippo Petriella) for sticking with me through good times and bad. Great things happen to those who don’t give up. #ausolympicteam #tokyotogether #happicoat #olympicdream #tokyo2020 #tokyo2020ne #perazzi #perazzihightech

A post shared by Laura Coles (@misslauracoles) on


“When I first saw that criteria, in some ways I was incredibly relieved and in others I felt a lot of pressure. There was really nothing to hide behind. You either had to be the highest scorer or you weren’t going,” she said.

“I was incredibly nervous throughout the series. I remember having problems sleeping, I remember having bad dreams about missing targets, I think I nearly threw myself out of bed trying to hit targets in my sleep, so I definitely felt the pressure. The pressure was on the whole way through right up until the very last shot of qualifying.”

Apart from the change of Olympic selection criteria, there were two other defining moments.

Her training partner, Nick Melanko, took on a coaching role and is now her fiancé and they are to be married in November.

“He’s my coach. He’s my rock. He has been really a pillar of strength for me and I think he’s made such a big difference with my performance. He’s the massage therapist, he’s the psychologist, he’s the shoulder to cry on – everything wrapped up in the one person,” she said.

The other key step was the manufacturing of her custom-made Perazzi gun to suit her size.
 

 

“For the majority of people, an off the shelf gun might suit them fairly well because they’re made for the average person. But I am not the average person and the average gun doesn’t suit me.

“It’s light enough for me to handle, it recoils very little. Without that piece of equipment, I don’t think I could perform as well as I have,” she said.

The enforced COVID-19 break from shooting has seen Coles itching to return to the range. Apart from shooting being her sport, her Hot Shots Shooting business in Whiteman Park in Perth is also her occupation.

“It’s lot of fun being able to introduce people to a sport that I love. I think it taught me a lot about shooting and the way that we learn and our psychology when it comes to executing that type of skill,” she said.

Now, with social restrictions gradually being lifted and her mind at ease following her Tokyo selection, life is slowly returning to normal and a little girl’s Olympic dreams are now just 14 months away from being fully realised.

Written by Greg Campbell for Shooting Australia's 'In Sight' series