Charles Turner has led one of the world’s most successful sporting Institute’s since becoming Chief Executive of the NSW Institute of Sport in 2003.
As one of Australia’s most successful water polo players, Charles competed at three Olympic Games (1976, 1980, 1984) as part of the men’s water polo team and finished his career with 504 international caps. Interestingly he was joined by his brother Michael Turner at the 1980 and 1984 Games.
He then went on to coaching as the national men’s water polo coach at the Australian Institute of Sport, leading the Australian team from 1989 – 1996.
Charles was head coach of the 1993 World Cup team where Australia finished third and earned Australia’s first medal of any kind at a major international tournament.
After over 13 years at the helm at the NSWIS we asked Charles to reflect on some of the most rewarding aspects of his career.
What is your favourite memory of competing for Australia?
My favourite memory was my first appearance at the Olympics Games (Montreal 1976). I have two very special moments etched in my mind; walking into the opening ceremony, hearing the roar of the crowd and being totally overwhelmed by a feeling of elation.
Secondly, playing the first game at the Montreal Games against Hungary (Olympic gold medal medallists and doyens of the sport). We lost 6-5 but I scored four goals and received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd.
As a coach of the Australian men’s water polo team what did you find most challenging?
As a coach the most challenging aspect of my time with Australia was the feeling that we, as a team, rarely received a fair opportunity to achieve our potential. In most of the major competitions Australia played in we were adversely effected by questionable officiating.
How has your background in coaching and high performance sport enabled you to be a successful CEO?
Understanding what athletes and coaches need to be successful has provided me with the appreciation that every decision I make must be in the best interest of the athletes. I always put the athlete first in all considerations.
In your time as CEO at NSWIS what are some of the standout sporting performances and why?
Two particular performances stand out for me in the time since I have been at NSWIS. Firstly, Matthew Mitcham’s gold medal performance in Beijing. We battled so hard for Matthew with both the sport and the AIS in order to support him to succeed. To witness his performance in Beijing was very satisfying.
The second stand out moment for me was Geoff (Skippy) Huegill’s gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. We took a chance and supported a very much out of condition athlete that we knew had the talent to succeed. It was a pleasure to support his journey back to the podium.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
Feeling that I have been a part of helping Australian athletes be successful. Moments like Matthew Mitcham’s gold medal in Beijing are the reason that I come to work each day.
As we head into the next Olympic and Paralympic cycle what is next for NSWIS?
Continuing to help athletes achieve their dreams and building a better Institute.