With just under 150 days to go before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games kick off, Olympians and Olympic hopefuls today stepped up to help Clean Up Australia Day activities at Rodd Point.
Clean Up Australia Day is the largest community-based environmental event in Australia and this year celebrates its 30-year anniversary.
Dual Olympic water polo Aidan Roach together with teammate Blake Edwards were joined by 17-year-old diver and Tokyo 2020 hopeful Sam Fricker, to support the local communities in Sydney Clean Up.
Roach, a London and Rio Olympian, recognised the importance of supporting local community environmental efforts in a time when the environment is in desperate need for positive action and commended Clean Up Australia Day for 30 years.
“How good, 30 years, it’s amazing. We are very lucky to grow up in such a beautiful country and every Australian I think just wants to try and give back a little,” Roach said.
“We get a lot of support from the Government and Canada Bay (Council) and at the end of the day it’s not about giving up time, it’s just good to be down here and part of the community and helping clean up.
“There is a fair bit (of rubbish), it’s a bit surprising because it's such a beautiful area and when you get down here you see how much rubbish there is, and in particular a lot of plastic which isn’t good for the local wildlife around,” he said.
For year 12 student and diving sensation Sam Fricker, he’s not only eyeing off finishing high school but also qualifying for his first Olympic Games.
The youngster from Cronulla said Clean Up Australia Day is a cause close to his heart after he co-founded TSARIAN, which creates sustainable solutions to single-use plastics.
“Clean Up Australia Day is something very personal to me. I travel the world and see the effects of plastics all over the globe… I’m so passionate about the environment that I started a company developing eco-friendly straws to help minimise plastic straws which are a huge problem,” Fricker said.
“I’m excited to be here to do my part. The fact that it's (Clean Up Australia Day) been running for 30 years is huge and it's great to see all the generations taking part today,” he said.
This initiative is supported by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) who are committed to providing opportunities for athletes to engage with and contribute back to the community.
AIS Director Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Matti Clements, said it was fantastic to have two of the Kookaburras joining their local community for a worthy cause.
“Australian high-performance athletes are great role models for our local communities and we are thrilled to have two of Hockey Australia’s Kookaburra players putting their hand up to help a great cause like Clean Up Australia Day,” Clements said.
“The values of our athletes make them great all-round citizens and is the reason so many Australians can connect with our high-performance athletes.
“Working with Water Polo Australia and Diving Australia we are pleased to see that Aidan, Blake and Sam have given up their time to help Clean Up Australia mark a significant milestone of 30 years of making positive change in local communities.
"We hope our athletes too will inspire the next generation to make their mark,” she said.
Roach commended the AIS for their support of such an initiative, recognising the importance it plays for athlete wellbeing.
“It’s really good for athletes, as sometimes we can get caught up with the day-to-day routine of training but it’s important to take time out, reflect and show a bit of gratitude to the community that supports you,” Roach said.
Welcoming Australian high-performance athletes’ participation to the event, Clean Up Australia Chairman Pip Kiernan explained:
“What started thirty years ago by my father has grown into a powerful grassroots movement and we’re excited to continue to inspire and empower individuals and communities to take positive steps that make a difference – not just on Clean Up Australia Day but all year round”.