Sport and being active has been a huge part of my life. It has brought me so much happiness, amazing opportunities and the chance to meet wonderful people.
My sporting endeavours started at the ripe old age of three with Kindergym. That progressed to gymnastics and finally on to springboard and platform diving as a 10 year old.
I was always quite good at diving often winning or finishing on the podium at State and National Championships, but I really needed to step it up if I was to compete for Australia at major diving events, such as the Olympics and World Championships. Because of this in 2005 I moved from Melbourne to Brisbane to train at the Australian Institute of Sport (there isn’t an indoor diving pool in Canberra, hence the program being in Brisbane). The training was long, difficult and intense, it was 10 sessions a week over 6 days (with Sundays off) to total 30 hours a week. My evening sessions were 3 ½ hours long. Training also included lots of flexibility training, strength and conditioning, ice baths, Pilates, physio, massage, nutrition and the dreaded skin fold test.
After 15 years of training the blood, sweat and tears I poured into my diving paid off – in 2008 I earned my spot on the Australia Olympic Team. I competed in the Women’s 3 meter synchronised event with Sharleen Stratton and also the Women’s 10 meter synchronised event with Melissa Wu.
Sharleen and I were disappointed to finish in 5thplace in the 3m event, but I didn’t have much time to dwell on it as two days later I had the women’s 10m synchronised event. In the previous year we had finished 2ndat the World Championships, so we knew we had a very good chance to finish on the podium. In the event we do five dives, two are simple dives and three dives are unlimited degree of difficulty – the tricky dives. We were the last team to compete and our first 4 dives had gone very well, and I knew we were in second place. Our last dive was our most difficult: Back 2.5 somersaults with 1.5 twists in the piked position. We executed an almost perfect dive and finished in second place behind the Chinese who were simply amazing.
It was an incredible experience diving in front of 20,000 people and all the cameras and media, just the enormity of being at the Olympics: living in the athletes village with thousands of other amazing athletes, being a part of the Australian team and watching amazing people do amazing things, such as watching Usain Bolt win the men’s 100m final in world record time at the Bird Nest Stadium!
One of the best bonuses from diving is it has allowed me to travel all over the world for diving competitions including: Spain, Italy, USA, Russia, Mexico, Turkey, Canada, UK, Qatar, Macau and I have been to China 16 times!
Other highlights of my diving career are:
- Gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in the women’s 3m synchro (watch it here.)
- Silver and Bronze medals at the 2007 World Championship in the women’s 10m synchro and women’s 3m synchro
- Silver and Bronze medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the women’s 10m synchro and women’s 3m synchro
So where does running fit into this story?
After 17 years of diving, I retired and moved back to Melbourne. I knew I wanted to stay fit and I thought that running was the most time efficient way to keep fit, so I stubbornly made myself a runner. My last ever event was the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. On the way home we stopped via Sydney, and enjoying Qantas Club with lots of other athletes, there I sat opposite fellow RMA member Lisa Weightman and Michael Shelley – I told them I was about to take up running and asked if they had any running tips. I can’t remember what they said, but I’m sure they thought I was a bit bonkers!
After a couple of months of running on my own I decided I needed to find a running group and a running coach. I found a terrific group with a terrific coach, his name is Campbell Maffett and his group is Love the Run. Running was great for me, a new challenge to sink my teeth into but also getting used to not being the best or winning, it was weird to be mediocre and humbling.
Over time got much quicker (5km PB is 19:52 and 10km PB is 40:50 – both are pre-kids), but the best thing to come from the running group was meeting my husband Tim. He is super quick, his 10km PB is 31:21 – amazing! Tim even proposed to me on a trail run. He sped off on me and when I caught up to him he was on bended knee, I thought he had fallen over! We have since gone on to have two lovely kids: Joshua is almost 3 and Elsie is 4 months old. The running goals have changed now – try and run a couple of times a week, and get to 100 parkruns this year (I’m currently on 62). I have never run a marathon, but would like to run NYC marathon one day.
I love running for so many reasons, I have met so many wonderful people through running, the challenge of running and pushing yourself, the satisfaction of achieving a goal or getting a PB, and now being a mum of two little kidlets running is the best ‘me’ time. I love how running can be done just about anywhere and practically for free, it can be social or quality time for yourself.
I live near Yarra Bend Park in Melbourne which is fantastic for running, we actually live here due to the proximity of fantastic places to run, with options of hills or flat, trails or paved. I haven’t done many events in the last few years but I have enjoyed a variety of events, terrain and distances.
When I was a professional diver I pushed myself out of my comfort zone every day as part of training, that ability of feeling discomfort and pushing through it has helped me in my running (and my labours!). I’m certainly very competitive still, which I’m sure will drive me to get fitter and faster, and maybe even a PB or two.
I haven’t met many RMA ladies in Melbourne as yet, but the support through Facebook from all the RMA members across Australia is amazing, and something I’m so excited and privileged to be a part of.
So if you ever see a short girl with an Olympic rings tattoo on her shoulder running around Melbourne please come and say hello!