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GAP: SWAS Athletes Get a Taste of Olympic Success
2 February 2010
WAIS water-polo athlete, James Stanton travelled to Bunbury to deliver part of the Advanced GAP to South West Academy of Sport athletes last month. After reflecting on his time with the athletes, he has put together a few words to share with them.
 
Impressed and Entertained
 
What an amazing first experience! My first time working with the Gifted Athlete Program, down in Bunbury with the South West Academy of Sport, was an absolute pleasure. After the introductions and the layout of the day was discussed, we jumped straight into the activities, starting with a leadership based activity involving a competition to see which team could build the tallest paper tower, using only newspaper and sticky tape. Tim had previously told me that most teams only manage to build a tower about a metre tall. You can imagine our surprise when we saw one team reach about 2.5 metres tall, and the team that won reached about 3 metres, it was unbelievable! The most impressive aspect was seeing everyone working so well in the team environment, no-one was left out, and no idea was discarded without due process.
 
As the day moved on I told everyone my story of how I had to make the tough decision of whether to leave my friends and family and move to Spain to play professionally or not, and how I dealt with that, and then relate it back to the topic of transitions and how some of these athletes might have to face the same decision in the future. The most interesting thing about the day was walking around the room during group discussions and listening to all the different stories of all the different athletes. It was the first time I’d ever met a surfing, equestrian, BMX or tae kwon do athlete, and hearing them talk about their sports with the same passion and enthusiasm I talk about mine was an awesome experience.
 
I’d say the highlight of the day was when we were doing our short public speaking exercise which had the athletes talking about any topic for 15 seconds. The best one had to be one of the basketballer’s, Jeremy, and his minute long speech about how good his girlfriend and her decorated cupcakes were. I honestly don’t think I’ve enjoyed a speech that much in a long time!
 
All in all it was a great experience to hopefully impart a little of what I’ve learnt over my years as an elite athlete, and also just getting to meet these interesting, funny, kind and open kids was a real pleasure. It was a long day with a lot of information to take in but they seemed to take it all in their stride and I think they learnt some valuable and practical skills. I can’t wait until the next time we visit.
 
James Stanton
   
 
 
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