Hope you’re well! It’s been a while between drinks on the newsletters.
Obviously a disrupted year in 2020 has meant changes for everyone. In my world it’s meant no real racing last year, the last minute attempt to qualify for Tokyo diminished, and stuck in Melbourne for my first winter in almost 5 years.
Now I guess reading that, it’s easy to look at all the ‘negatives’ that have happened. Yes no racing is disappointing definitely. In regards to the Paralympics, honestly, even if we have had a normal year, it was looking that I was just going to fall short of that elusive top 9 ranked spot to qualify. Now that was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow for sure.
This year has brought a lot of uncertainty, but one thing that’s been consistent for me, is working on trying to see the positives in every situation. No racing seemed negative, but in hindsight it’s turned out to be a blessing for my body. Still being very fresh to sport in general, this has given me the chance to just work on the basics, and slowly build up some strength, and work on all the areas of my swim, bike and run that were lacking due to lack of fitness.
So it’s actually turned into a very positive experience, and one that I know will benefit me in the next few years as I adjust the goal posts and set my sights on the Paris Paralympics in 2024. Again another obstacle, being turned into an opportunity. Knowing I was essentially out of the running for Tokyo was tough, but also something I accepted quite well, realising that I almost qualified after a couple of years, I’m looking forward to seeing what position I can be in, come 2024.
Lastly on the obstacle front was being stuck in Melbourne during what had been a very tiring and tough few months, not just for myself, but everyone in the best state in Australia (no bias). What it’s meant for me has been lot’s of hours working at home, and many many cold, wet mornings, training by myself. Due to restrictions of people, distance and facilities it’s meant months of swimming in the Bay (luckily made it out just before winter hit!) Many cold dark morning’s on the bike and trails just getting the ‘business’ done as usual.
I’m really grateful to have the opportunity I have as an athlete, and sport itself has helped make the hard days easier, and the good days better. So all in all what I’m getting at is that, whilst every experience isn’t always what we want, sometimes it’s exactly what we need.
Which brings me to the reason for my email. I’ve been really fortunate enough for the past couple years to be involved with the Black Dog Institute as an Ambassador. They do great work in helping everyone live happier, healthier lives. An approach I really enjoy, knowing the benefits I find in a bit of exercise, sunshine, good food and good support from friends and family.
Luckily enough I was selected to be apart of a community engagement program through the Australian Institute of Sport and the Black Dog Institute, called the Mental Fitness Program. It’s a program aimed at high school students from Year 7-12 aimed at processes to build mental fitness. We get to share our own experiences with mental health, and explain things we do ourselves, such as practicing gratitude, mindfulness, and then lastly having a meaning and purpose in life. All these things I practice everyday, and are a large part of why I’m in the position I’m in today.
Also I know I have a lot of parents on here. Now this program itself will be running until the end of October 2021, and whilst this year has involved a lot of Zoom meetings, with life slowly coming back to normal in all states, this program will hopefully be doing a lot of face to face work over the start of next year. If you like the idea, and think your kids, nephews, friends could benefit from this, please feel free to pass this along! The presentation is free and involves one initial session, and a follow up 6 weeks later after the student go and complete our Mental Fitness Challenge at www.biteback.org.au.
Due to being trapped in Melbourne, and not soaking up the Spanish sun these past few months, I’ve been really lucky to already do this presentation to 15 schools, speaking to over to 2000 students and counting. This has been my biggest accomplishment all year. A program I’m proud to be apart of, something I really believe in, and being able to help share my shadows as well as my light with kids coming up, dealing with some tough times, in the toughest times of all, the teenage years.
Feel free to head to https://www.ais.gov.au/mental-fitness-program for more information if it is something you like the sound of, and know anyone that could benefit from it!