An Athlete State of Mind.

Athlete. Sportsperson. Active minded individual.

Elite. Grass roots. Beginner. It all counts. They are the special breads of humans, in my opinion. How do I know this? Because fortunately been surrounded by them for twenty years of my life. And have earned the honour of representing my country, in turn calling myself one of the above.

I am grateful sport chose me early on. I experienced the joy of playing multiple disciplines, for many years, multiple teams. Teaching me multiple life lessons, early on. For my parents, who drive me to countless practices, countless venues country-wide and multiple amounts of money, on supporting all of this. Supporting My Dream.

I’ve experienced some incredible, unforgettable highs From This sport. From the track. Moments you’d always dreamt of. Movie-moments.

Where it’s not necessarily the medal around your neck. But it’s the atmosphere. Its the feeling of pushing your body, to move the fastest it’s ever been, with every contraction. The ‘YES.’ Moments. Where every training session is being put to use, just to run that self satisfying 0.04 seconds faster your body has moved, than ever before. It’s the crowd’s roar.

Its the lights. It’s the architecture of the stadium. It’s the people volunteering their time to put on a race for you. The way a competitor quickly becomes a mate once the race is done. In the camaraderie of the hand- shake, post race. Picking one another rod the track with a pat on the back. Where you’re out of breath but you always, without fail, acknowledge your opponents that competed against you.

You thank the officials recording the event. And you quietly thank God. It’s the people you encounter, that you’ve never met, but they quietly acknowledge you. Your performance out there, with a simple nod or passing smile.

It’s the honour of the colours you’re wearing. Whether it be Club, state or national. It’s patriotism. Making someone out there proud. Making you proud.

It’s that feeling. I can’t put a finger on it…It’s the moments when you proved to yourself you could and you never stopped. Overcoming mental, physical and emotional hurdles in the process. The lost-for-words moments, when it all went your way. You simply can’t describe it. But you smile. Inside out. Grateful for the journey. Grateful for the people around you. The feeling of adrenaline, mixed with pure joy, mixed triumph and a whole lot of serotonin. The feeling that helped you fall in love with the sport. Just pure happy. The I’m ‘how bloody good is running,’ feeling.

I’ve also experienced the Lows. The moments when you didn’t think you could make it to the line. The moments when your body gave up on itself, before you got to be line. The moments of self doubt in pre-race nerves. The moment of pain, more than any physical injury pain. But pain in being told you’re not allowed to compete, due to injury. When you’d worked so hard to prove to yourself you could; your body simply said ‘no.’

The sacrifices. The people that just don’t get it and blame you, because they don’t understand your passion. They don’t understand your why Your way of life. That this isn’t a choice anymore – it’s a compulsion. The moments of ‘is it all really worth it?…’

But they’re all part of it. Positive and negative. The good comes with the bad. It allows you to work harder, for that brief little high. And it allows you to well and truly earn it!

The bouncing back part. The part that teaches resilience that cannot be taught in an office. Can only be taught on that ‘Oval Office,’ the track. The field. The pitch. The court.

I owe a lot to Sport. It has shaped the person who I am today. Introduced me to a whole new world, to some incredible people who have become family. Kept my physical body just as healthy as my emotional and physical body. It’s been an outlet that saved me from myself, in dark times. It’s given me goals, dreams behind my wildest imagination. And some of the happiest days of my memories.

There’s nothing like proving to yourself, that you are good enough. Exceed your own expectations, but adhering to the journey that you ultimately planned for yourself, for daring to dream in the first place.

I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to some incredible places, met some beautiful faces. And learned wherever there’s a track – there’s home, to me.

From The harsh winters of USA, Canada and England. To the overbearing humidity of training in Cambodia, Thailand, Fiji, The Cook Islands and behind; I’ve found my peace on that track. I it’s a place of ‘me’ time, my outlet. And a place I decide my future.

Most recently I was training in the United Kingdom for a period of about four weeks. It was winter there, when I didn’t have my coach. I didn’t have my squad bantering with me. Just myself, 3 degree icy winds, about seven layers of clothing, and an orange tartan stadium, layed before me. The same surface, as back home. But with a whole new set of obstacles and metaphorical hurdles.

Lungs tight, breathing painful. Hands frozen without gloves. Questioning one’s own sanity, rep after rep. And legs on fire! But this was part of it all. No excuses. I choose this, willingly. And continue to, no mater the country, no matter the conditions.

I decided a long time ago, my destiny. That I would prove to myself that I want to take myself to as far as I can physically go with this sport. I want to be an Olympian.

And it’s been eighteen bloody years, but I certainly haven’t given up yet! As a seven year old, watching our local legend. The phenomenal Cathy Freeman compete for our country. She not only competed, but she won the 400m, at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Witnessing that moment, is where it all started. The Passion, if you will.

I said to my little self, watching in awe. Eyes glued to that television screen. Her body in moving so swiftly. Her pain in her face, in digging deeper than ever before. Her humility in her triumph and success. I wanted that. I said there and then, I am going to do that with my life one day. And I will.

And of course it hasn’t been smooth sailing. I’ve had multiple injury, illness and misfortune. They’ve been multiple coaches, politics, those ups and downs. But it’s all been worth it. It’s part of the Journey To The Dream, as I’ve always called it.

I certainly haven’t been able to keep going this far, alone. I’ve had the most phenomenal team behind me. My family, supporting each and every one of my crazy dreams. In driving me and flying me around the country and in turn the world – to support my dreams. Financially supporting me, emotionally supporting me. And physically being there to support me, whenever they can. And never saying, never to my next step.

My partner, in all his support. His unconditional support, in every definition. Not only being there, cheering louder than any voice in the stadium and being proud of it. Mentally challenging me to push myself, past all my fears. Beyond my dreams. And never doubting me, my decisions or my big dreams. Not even for a second.

My friends in understanding why I have to miss that party, again. Can’t see them on competition weekends, or miss birthdays and anniversaries due to training.

And my coaches. These special people that see more potential in me than I see in myself and continue to push me, beyond my limitations. And all the glorious, countless, beautiful people. The behind the scenes people. The acquaintances, the family friends. But also the therapists, the doctors, the supporters and people that have invested in me, that believe in This Journey.

The track continues to, and will always be my light. I haven’t given up on that goal, since. Although it may have changed slightly. I am more determined. More willing. More hungry for my goal.

Because I chose to go to that level. The ‘one percenters,’ the extras. The above and beyond. Because that’s what all adds up. It’s going to that that all and much much more! The sessions that don’t make sense, everything hurts, your mind is fighting your body – but you do it anyway, because it brings you one step closer. One step ahead of the game.

I have a goal, not dream. Because a goal without a vision is a dream.

Never give in to expeditions set by someone else for your future. You are your own guiding light.

Chose to go to your level for your goal. And keep going; For your seven year old self.

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Athletes Not ”Female Athletes”

Welcome to The Changing Game podcast! This is where five students take a closer look at the rise of women’s sport and key issues in the female sporting landscape.

In this episode Susannah Walmsley will firstly chat with our special guest Mary K from Ladies Who League. The group will look at key moments in women’s sport from the fans perspective and hear from an amazing panel of women’s sport advocates. The pannel made up of Andy Kovszun,who is Content Producer at Fitzgibbons International, Phil Wishart from the Office of Sport, Susannah Walmsley, a professional basketball player with the Sydney Uni Flames, Stacey Speer hosting the podcast, who is an American football player and works in marketing at Gridiron NSW. And myself, offering perspective an internationally ranked Heptathlete. 

My chosen focus for the podcast was the quote regarding the AFL Women’s league ”AFL need to keep pushing for equality and have the support behind them to make these talented athletes,seen as what they are. Athletes, rather than ‘’Female Athletes. As long as the women are playing the same game, they deserve the rights to be paid equally.” In final editing of the podcast, due to time restraints the team decided to focus my discussion about equal pay as a professional athlete, and athletics in Australia in comparison to USA College Athletics. Rather than the AFL discussion which was made in previous takes.

AFL – Still a Man’s Sport?

This interview explores current topics surrounding Australian rules football with the introduction of the Women’s league for the first time this season. The main research found that the AFL has a large pay gap between men and women’s professional AFL players. The ABC provided the statistics that female players are being paid 125 times less than their male counterparts. The Australian also discussed sexism in the sport. Additional research showed that there was a huge difference for New South Wales and Victorian fans, between what matches were available on free-to-air and cable television stations, as well as additional coverage on news stations, both television and radio, and in local newspapers.

Australian Rules football has had a predominately Victorian fan base within Australian society. The introduction of the Women’s league created exposure nation and world-wide in bridging the quality gap between men’s and women’s professional sports. But the question is, is the AFL really doing enough to bridge that gap so women unlike men, must work alongside their professional football career in order to make a living? Recently ABC online provided statistics showing that female players are being paid 125 times less than their male counterparts. It was also made apparent in the AFLW’s annual report that an entire women’s AFL team cost less that an individual average male player.

To gain an insight, UTS Sports Media spoke to an AFL mega fan Clare in Sydney last week. She has this to say on the issue: ‘’ With it being such a massive thing firstly, to the women in the AFL league, I think they’re doing a fantastic job this season, with the introduction of women. However, there’s still a long way to go for women to have the same opportunities as men do.’’

The Women’s league certainly gained great exposure across the shortened eight-week season, the exhibition match, won by 19 points by the Demons, reached 1.1 million viewers who watched at least five minutes across Channel 7, 7mate and Foxtel. (Footywire.com.au statistics).

With so much exposure and fans barracking for their favourite teams, it would make sense that football would be a full-time job for the female athletes, like the men? Think again. The top two players of each team will get about $25,000 for the season, and then $10,000 for high profile players, and $5,000 for everyone else. You read correctly: These elite athletes will earn merely $5,000 for an eight-week season. All are expected to train about nine hours per week, plus pre-season. This seems incomparable with an average male player who earns just over $300,000 (ABC.net). This essentially equates to buying an entire women’s team for the cost of a single male player. It just doesn’t add up.

Clare voiced her concerns on this topic by saying, ‘’As a mother of a daughter, I am very excited by the fact that women’s league has been introduced. And by the time she’s old enough, hopefully those years would have provided enough time for it to have developed and become an equal opportunity. ‘’ The problem seems to lie with broadcasting rights to women’s matches, as that’s where the big money lies. It would be expected to take a few years before the broadcasters would pay rights to show women’s footy matches, according to AFL’s general manager of game and market development, Simon Lethlean.

As long as the women are paying the same game, they deserve the rights to be paid equally.

Below is what the public had to say:

AFLTwitter Poll

AFL Fb Poll

Athletics Australia Announces Summer 2017 Competition Structure

Australian athletics fans, are in for a delight as Athletics Australia finally announces the competition structure for the 2016/2017 summer season.

There are some major changes to the association’s most anticipated competition: The 2017 Australian Athletics Championships, National titles. Once formally a four-day long event, for both abled-bodied and para-athletes Open aged category athletes.

The decision to combine both junior and senior competition, has created and eight-day long event for next year’s National Titles.

This new structure was designed in conjunction with Athletics Australia’s Member Associations and will be the largest annual athletics event in Australia and the Oceania-Pacific region. With an estimated 3500 Athletes to be competing, next March.

It will bring together participants of all ages in the pursuit of Personal Best’s and national championship medals, to the host city of Sydney, held at Sydney Olympic Park Athletics Centre.

Another major change to the competition schedule is the ‘’Summer of Aths’’ Grand Prix Event. This is the first time it will be held over two days, hosted by the nation’s capital, at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, ACT.

The aim of this change, was to attract more spectators to the championships. The two-day elite series, will welcome the very best able-bodied and para-athletes as they make final preparations for the 2017 Australian Athletics Championships.

‘’Nitro Athletics’’ is another exciting addition to the calendar. This is something Athletics in Australia has never seen before. It will be a ground-breaking team-based athletics series that will pit the best athletes from across Australia and around the world against each other across three events. More information will be confirmed on the Athletics Australia website, but there is a promise that the Fastest Man in The World, none other than Usain Bolt will be making an appearance, in this new exciting event.

Other smaller, structural changes, to each state and territory were made in this year’s calendar. Predominately including more competition and more elite level competition, with the change to record performance eligible for overseas competition.

For more information on the exciting changes, keep checking Athletics Australia and relevant state and territory associated websites, for updates.