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Mental Fitness Challenge

Hey Team,

Hope you’re well! It’s been a while between drinks on the newsletters so I’ll try to keep it short.

Obviously a disrupted year has meant changes for everyone. In my world it’s meant no real racing this year, my last minute attempt to qualify for Tokyo diminished, and being stuck in Melbourne for my first winter in almost five years.

Now I guess reading that, it’s easy to look at all the ‘negatives’ that have happened. Yes, no racing is definitely disappointing. 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-nine 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 my 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 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 with a full four-year cycle under my belt.

Lastly on the obstacle front was being stuck in Melbourne during what’s been a very tiring and tough few months, not just for me, but everyone in the state. What it’s meant for me has been lots 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 I made it out just before winter hit!), many cold dark mornings 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.

This 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, which is 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.

AIS/ Blackdog Mental Fitness Program

Luckily enough I was selected to be a part 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 promotion 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 every day, and are a large part of why I’m in the position I’m in today.

My email comes as a little late notice, but I’m lucky enough to get to do this presentation publicly for The Black Dog Institute this coming Thursday 29/10/20 at 10:30AM, I’ve chucked the link in here: https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/education-services/webinars/upcoming-community-webinars/

If you can come along, and listen in, it would be great to have you there as I share my highs and lows, and all the in-betweens.

Also I know I have a lot of parents on here. This program will be running until the end of March 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, nieces, friends and family could benefit from this, please feel free to pass this along! The presentation is free and involves one initial session, and a follow up six weeks later after the students 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 almost 10 schools, speaking to close to 1000 students already. This has been my biggest accomplishment all year. A program I’m proud to be a part 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.

Hope to see you in the virtual world on Thursday, if not, hopefully you’ll be hearing from me post-race in early 2021!

Cheers, Liam

P.S I will also take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported me in any way as I try to make this dream possible. Firstly, to the START Foundation and Black Dog Institute, thanks for having me as an Ambassador and believing in me. To all my friends at the Tattersalls Club for their ongoing support the past few years, to the AMP Tomorrowmaker’s Project, The Dylan Alcott Foundation, Giant Australia, all my friends and family who have come along for the ride and all the wonderful people who donated to my Twomey2Tokyo project last year. Thank you.

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