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.


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 the World Championships, 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.

"At World Champs, I struggled to warm up properly. I tore my MCL but once the game started and the adrenaline kicked in, it helped me to push through," Artacho del Solar said of her knee injury.

She pushed through the pain and the team won bronze. After some time off to recover, the team made their return this month in the three-star event at Qinzhou, China where they finished fourth, before heading to Mexico.

"In Mexico I pushed myself every game and my ab would get a little worse. I really felt it in the finals but I narrowed my focus to one movement at a time and together with T (Clancy), we stayed patient and just walked the race. Communication and trust was very important in getting through."

In winning their sixth World Tour gold medal (and 11 medals in total from 21 events as a team), 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.

"We talk a lot about staying patient and trusting the process throughout the season," Artacho del Solar continued.

"We have a special connection, we trust and believe in each other which is a big asset. We are always on the same page, share the same values and goals and enjoy every moment competing."

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. 


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.


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

Olympic Champions take top honours at NSWIS Awards

Submitted by admin on Fri, 11/15/2019 - 09:20
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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.


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.


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.




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.


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 @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

Liana Buratti


Submitted by admin on Wed, 11/13/2019 - 13:26
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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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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.  


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.


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

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“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

WEEKEND WRAP: Tokyo quotas, a rainbow jersey and a record-breaking crowd

Submitted by admin on Mon, 11/11/2019 - 14:21
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Australia's athletes were on fire this weekend, securing over a dozen Tokyo 2020 quota spots, dominating the podiums and breaking national crowd-attendance records.


Rugby 7s – Men’s team book ticket to Tokyo

The Aussie 7s men’s team has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, defeating Samoa 19-12 in the Olympic Qualification Final of the Oceania Sevens Championship in Suva Fiji on Saturday.

Australia came back from a 12-0 deficit to score three unanswered tries, including a charge-down try by Captain Lewis Holland in the dying minutes to secure the win. The Aussie men then went on to defeat Fiji in a thrilling final, taking out the overall championship 22-7 and ensuring both Australian teams went undefeated at this year's Oceania Sevens Championship.

Earlier in the evening the Women’s Sevens defeated Fiji 24-12 to win the overall Oceania Women Sevens Championship and cap off a remarkable undefeated tournament. Find out more HERE

Shooting – 11 Tokyo quota spots for Aussies at Oceania Champs

Australian shooters were on target at the 2019 Oceania Championships in Sydney, locking up 11 quota spots for Tokyo. Siblings Jack and Tori Rossiter, Beijing and London Olympian Dina Aspandiyarova and 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympian Alex Hoberg all claimed quota spots for Australia.

The 11 quota spots take the total shooting quota spots earned for Australia to 15, with results at 2019 World Championships and World Cup events already securing spots for Tokyo 2020. Find out more HERE

BMX Freestyle – Aussie World Championships 1-2

Brandon Loupos claimed the rainbow jersey, Logan Martin took silver, while Natalya Diehm moved Australia a step closer to Olympic qualification in a dominant display by Australia in the BMX Freestyle finals at the 2019 Urban Cycling World Championships in China on Sunday.

With BMX Freestyle making its Olympic debut in Tokyo, the Australians showed they are a force to be reckoned with in 2020.

Loupos was lost for words after claiming the rainbow jersey, calling it a dream come true. “It (the rainbow jersey) has been my phone background for 365 days, now it is on my chest, I can’t believe it. I am absolutely speechless,” the 2018 World Championship bronze medallist said.

Despite crashing on a backflip attempt in his first run in the final, Loupos put together a stunning second run to shoot to the top of the leaderboard with a double backflip, flair whip, a 1080, a 720 into a double whip transfer and cash roll, before ending with a five flair scoring 93.20 points. Find out more HERE

Canoe Slalom – Jess Fox named to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Team

Multiple world champion canoeist Jess Fox was officially selected to the Tokyo 2020 Australian Olympic Team, making her third Games after silver and bronze at London 2012 and Rio 2016. Fox will compete in both the K1 and C1, with C1 making its Olympic debut for women.


Catch up on all the latest on Fox’s selection HERE

Swimming – Cate Campbell takes 2019 FINA World Cup crown

Cate Campbell won the 2019 World Cup title by 45 points over Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, finishing the year on 357 points after a strong World Cup meet in Doha. With points awarded based on results across seven two-day World Cup meets, Campbell went into the final Doha meet with a lead of 24 points.

Winning gold in the 100m freestyle and 50m freestyle and silver in the 50m butterfly ensured she extended her lead to claim the crown. Emily Seebohm and Kaylee McKeown made it an Aussie 1-2 in the 200m backstroke, while Bronte Campbell secured silver and bronze in the 100m and 50m freestyle respectively.

Tennis – Fed Cup heartbreak as France win thriller

Australia’s Fed Cup team have fallen just short of a first title in 46 years, going down 3-2 to France in Perth. Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic combined to beat Ash Barty and Sam Stosur to win the deciding doubles rubber 6-4 6-3, after Ajla Tomljanovic’s singles victory locked the final up at 2-2. It is France’s first Fed Cup title since 2003, while Australia’s wait for a trophy in the team competition extends to a 46th year.

Find out more HERE.

Baseball – Aussies through to Super Round at Premier 12

Australia kept its Premier 12 and Tokyo 2020 qualification hopes alive with a 3-1 victory over Canada in the Premier 12 tournament in Korea. With the top two teams from each pool progressing, Australia’s win and Korea’s victory over Cuba meant Australia went through to the six-team super round, holding the tiebreaker in a three-way tie with Cuba and Canada.

With a Tokyo 2020 quota spot on the line for the top-finishing Asian team, Australia’s progression to the super round keeps qualification to baseball’s Olympic return on the cards in Korea. The team will open their super round matches against Japan tonight, before taking on Mexico, the US and Chinese Taipei.

Find out more HERE

Golf – Minjee Lee takes third in Japan Classic

Minjee Lee notched a brilliant final-round 68 to finish in the top three at the Toto Japan Classic today. It was the second consecutive top-three finish for the Western Australian after her runner-up finish in Taiwan last week, in great form leading up to the season finale championship. After a week’s break, the top 70 players on the tour head to Florida for the year-ending LPGA Tour Championship, with the Australian charge led by fourth-ranked Lee and 21st ranked Hannah Green.

Cycling – Madison magic for Aussies in Glasgow World Cup

Annette Edmondson and Georgia Baker took World Cup gold in Glasgow in the Madison, just hours after Edmondson took individual bronze in the four-event omnium.

The Australian pair dominated the 120-lap Madison from the outset, winning five of the first eight sprints held every ten laps, while figuring in two others, to set up a commanding lead.
Despite a crash by Baker inside the final 15 laps, the pair kept calm and rode away with the win on 40 points ahead of Great Britain (31pts) and the Netherlands (19pts).

“We are so happy to take the gold medal and it shows all the hard work back home in Adelaide is paying off,” Edmondson said. The men’s Madison team of Leigh Howard and Sam Welsford also tasted podium success, winning bronze despite being caught up in a mid-race crash.

You can find out more HERE.

Cycling – Glaetzer reveals cancer battle

World champion sprinter Matt Glaetzer revealed Sunday he has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The dual world champion underwent surgery early last week and has been advised to allow the wound in his neck to heal and to keep his heart rate and blood pressure under control before resuming normal training in a few weeks. “You never want to hear that you’ve got cancer, it’s got such an ominous connotation to it, and it’s pretty heavy,” Glaetzer said.


Its a challenge I didn't think I would have to face, but I'm certainly not facing it alone. 2 weeks ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Thankfully I have the most treatable kind which has a great prognosis but there are still challenges ahead. If it weren't for the diligent medical staff at the @australiancyclingteam, who knows how much worse my situation could have become. I can't express how much I appreciate them and their attention to detail. Thank you. To everyone and especially us blokes who shrug things off and think 'It'll be right', sometimes its not. If you notice something strange, please just get it checked out. It may just save your life. Thank you @reecehomfray and @thetiser for looking after me through this process. If you haven't been able to access the article yet, swipe away. Tokyo 2020 is still the goal. The journey looks slightly different now, but bring it on. #menshealth #athlete #cancer #olympics

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“But I anticipated this throughout the process, I was preparing myself for the worst-case scenario. I figured there's nothing I can do about it, at this point worrying about it wasn’t going to make it better.

“I am thankful for the type of cancer that I do have and that it is treatable. I am grateful for the fact that my medical team caught it when they did, that they went through the steps, that they were very diligent in checking my sore neck that has then led to catching this.”

Glaetzer said he is resolved not to let this stop his pursuit of a third Australian Olympic Team selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. “So it is now about what’s the plan from here, how can I minimise its impact on myself as an athlete. Because I don't want to stop being an athlete anytime soon, I love what I do.

“I’m not going to stop chasing the Olympics and trying to be the best in the world, it’s what I love to do. It puts everything into perspective, but I’m not going to let this stop me. If I’m able to, and it's safe to, I'm not going to let this have power over what I want to do.”

Read Matt's story HERE.

Football – Matildas in record-setting win against Chile

The Matildas beat Chile 2-1 in Sydney in front of 20 029 fans, setting a record attendance for a Matildas game on home soil. Captain Sam Kerr bagged two goals taking her tally to 40 goals from 40 games across all competitions, with the Matildas, Chicago Red Stars
and Perth Glory.

Kerr’s double also took her Matilda’s career goalscoring tally to 38, equalling legend Cheryl Salisbury to move into third on the all-time Matildas scoring list. Find out more and check out the players’ reactions to the game HERE.

Diving – Aussie dive into medals at Gold Coast Grand Prix

Australian divers medalled in every event they contested in windy conditions at the FINA Diving Grand Prix on the Gold Coast. In the 3m springboard dual Olympian Annabelle Smith won silver with young gun Kiarra Milligan claiming her first World Cup medal in bronze.

Shixin Lin won bronze in the men’s 3m before pairing with Matthew Carter to take another bronze in the 3m synchro. The 10m platform saw Nikita Haynes win bronze in the women’s with Sam Fricker taking silver on the men’s side.


Thank you Gold Coast ☀️

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