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GAP: The Sporting Pathway to Olympic Glory
10 April 2010

story by Amber Bradley: two-time Olympian; Olympic medallist - Rowing

It was Confucius who originally said, "Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”


Going by this quote I have certainly worked a few days in my 29-year existence. But I’m pleased to report that Saturday, April 9, 2010 was not one of them.


Because while I was financially reimbursed for the part I played in co-presenting the GAP workshop (alongside guru WAIS GAP Training Officer, Kate Bobridge) to a bunch of lively young rowers and kayakers at the Department of Sport and Recreation building in Leederville on that day, I definitely wasn’t "working” according to Confuscius’ definition. 


As is always the case with GAP presentations, we (myself, Kate and the always enchanting star of the kayaking world, Jesse Phillips) shared with the "kids” some tips and tricks on what it takes to be a modern-day elite athlete.


Everything from the seemingly insignificant topic of ‘how to pack a suitcase’ to everyday essentials such as ‘what to eat’, ‘how to set goals’ and ‘the importance of time management’ were discussed. And we also covered topics such as injury prevention and management, life transitions and interview skills (using evergreen Olympic Champion and WAIS pole-vaulter Steve Hooker as the perfect role model in this area).


I, of course, was once a "kid” myself - wide-eyed and raring to take the rowing world by storm. But, within the blink of an eye I grew up and now, amongst my fellow WAIS rowers at least, I am affectionately known as Nana.


But with Nanahood comes the opportunity to share with whoever will listen what it was like "when I was a kid”. And thankfully after 16 years of incredible highs, downright depressing lows and much mundane mediocrity, I have reached a point in my own sporting career in which I feel well-informed about what I need to do to become the best athlete I can be. And I'm always more than happy to pass on my pearls of wisdom to the younger generation.  


My only hope was that the "kids” would take something away from the GAP presentation that day which would help them in their quest for sporting glory. 


And they did! After all nine modules were complete, each class member responded with insightful answers when prompted to write down something they would START doing, something they would STOP doing and something they would CONTINUE doing, with regards to their budding sporting careers. I was relieved to note that many of our students said they would CONTINUE chasing their sporting dreams. Phew! If nothing else, at least we didn’t put them off the whole idea!


The recent Crawford Review into the administering of the Australian Government’s funding for sport didn’t paint a bright future for athletes involved in Olympic Sports. But if the group of youngsters Kate, Jesse and I interacted with on that day in April is a true reflection of the talent this country possess, then I’m convinced David Crawford and his band of independent investigators will be forced to stand up and take notice of the extraordinary role models our future Olympians are. And if that’s the case, Olympic athletes will continue to play a significant role in this country’s proud sporting culture

 Amber (far right) with her winning World Championship crew, 2003

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