As part of this year’s Spirit of Sport celebrations we’re recognising some of the most inspiring stories and achievements from the past 12 months.
The ‘Community’ category of our Spirit of Sport celebrations acknowledges the engagement with the community by NSWIS athletes, including volunteering, fundraising, mentoring and being ambassadors.
Push Up Challenge
110 athletes, coaches and staff from across six NSWIS sport programs (cycling, diving, women’s hockey, men’s hockey, women’s water polo and men’s water polo) took part in The Push-Up Challenge. The Headspace (National Youth Mental Health Foundation) initiative takes place in May each year and raises awareness of mental health.
The task was to complete 3,046 push ups over twenty-one days, which reflects the number of lives lost in Australia to suicide in 2018.
‘Team NSWIS’ achieved more than 40,000 push ups and raised over $3,000 for the Foundation. This year’s success of this initiative comes after the Future Matildas program successfully completed the challenge in 2019, gaining the Push Up Challenge a nomination for the 2019 7News Spirit of Sport Award.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Olympic Committee’s Olympics Unleashed program, presented by Optus, moved into the digital classroom. More than 120 New South Wales schools have signed-up to connect students with Olympians sharing lessons in resilience and goal setting.
Multiple NSWIS athletes have continued to contribute to this program. Skateboarder Poppy Starr Olsen presented to her former high school of Bronte Public School and even did a few tricks during her virtual question & answer session. Dual sport Olympian and former NSWIS athlete Alex Croak shared her experience with more than 400 students at Pymble Ladies’ College in Sydney, where NSWIS operate the Northern Metro Hub swimming program.
Olympics Unleashed has seen 150,000 students in over 1096 school across the country receive face to face talks from Olympians and athletes aspiring for Tokyo 2020 on how to overcome adversity, adapt to new challenges and embracing their passion.
Share a Yarn
NSWIS athletes gained a greater appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture, supporting the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Share a Yarn initiative during NAIDOC Week. As part of their role as ambassadors for the program, the athletes enjoyed speaking with local Indigenous community members at a place very close to their hearts – their own sporting venues.
Rowing athletes Rowena Meredith and Emma Fessey shared a yarn with Darug Nation Custodian Uncle Lex Dadd at the Rowing Australia Women’s National Training Centre in Penrith, and sailor Rebecca Hancock and para cyclist Amanda Reid shared a yarn with John Hunter from the Muramara Cultural Council at Sydney Olympic Park.
Murray Stewart & Jo Brigden-Jones
After each overcoming injuries in time to be selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, NSWIS canoe sprint athletes Murray Stewart and Jo Brigden-Jones have used their time in lockdown to impact the community.
Murray and Jo have presented multiple online webinars to school children and fellow athletes during the COVID lockdown period, speaking about their recent surgery, their vast athlete experiences, and providing lockdown training advise, the pair have helped inspire and motivate many rising sports stars in NSW during which has been a very challenging time for the sporting and wider community.