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A letter to Australia’s athletes

17 August 2021

March 24th, 2020. The date itself might not resonate, but its impact sure did.

It was right in the middle of the first wave of the pandemic that’s changed all of our lives; the day the IOC and the Tokyo Organising Committee announced the postponement of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

You might not remember exactly where you were, but you’ll remember the impact. The impact on your training, your life, your team-mates, decisions about your immediate future.

Reset, re-focus, restart, re-imagine.

And Games postponement wasn’t the first hurdle. More dates, more lockdowns, more bubbles, more setbacks; right up until the Olympic flame was lit and right through the Games, we were changing, adapting, resetting. We felt the pain in different ways – athletes reached into the AIS Mental Health Referral Network in record numbers –  so many recognised the struggles we’ve all encountered, reached out for help, and said “it’s ok to not be ok”. And we now know that those of you in quarantine are counting down the days until you’re back home. We’re sending a special shout-out too to our South Australian friends who are facing double quarantine.

It has a been a long journey and for most of us, it’s not over yet. All of you have made incredible sacrifices along the way to put yourselves in a position to compete – at your best – on the world stage.

And now, wow.

Millions of Aussies, from all corners of the nation, sat in their living rooms and cheered on our Olympians in every sport, at every moment. The impact and the pride you instilled just can’t be measured. You delivered time and time again; 46 medals, 99 medallists – equalling our best Olympic performance ever.  But not just that, you revelled in other’s joy, you comforted each other when things didn’t go to plan. It was a team like never before.

Together, you reminded Australians of what we can achieve in periods of great adversity, with your efforts helping to inspire the next generation of kids to chase their dreams. We, along with the rest of the Nation, were in awe of the spirit, grit and determination you showed in the most challenging of circumstances and during one of the most difficult periods our nation has ever experienced.

So now we hope our Olympians can take a moment to reflect and in time celebrate with loved ones who have supported you along the journey and get ready to support our Paralympians as they reach for Paralympic glory and the honour to represent this great country.

To our Paralympians we wish you all a safe and successful Paralympic Games! We look forward to cheering you on and are excited for the nation to do the same come August 24th in Tokyo. We look forward to your return and the opportunity to celebrate our collective success as we kick off an incredible chapter of Olympic and Paralympic history with the Winter and Commonwealth Games just around the corner.

As athletes, you have provided the foundation for what will be one of the most exciting periods for Australian sport as we light the path towards the 2032 Games in Brisbane.

We are proud to stand alongside you in all your achievements and to have had the opportunity to show our nation and the world what Aussie athletes are made of.

Photos of the AIS Athlete Advisory Committee: Steve Moneghetti - Chair, Sally Fitzgibbons - Surfing, Josh Booth - Rowing, Matt Levy - Para Swimming, Jane-Anne Claxton - Hockey, Danni Di Toro - Para Table Tennis, Rowie Webster - Water Polo, Alyce Wood (nee Burnett) -Sprint Kayak, Angus Armstrong - Athletics, Mitchell Gourley - Para Alpine Skiing, Anabelle Smith - Diving.
  • Steve Moneghetti - Chair
  • Sally Fitzgibbons - Surfing
  • Josh Booth - Rowing
  • Matt Levy - Para Swimming
  • Jane-Anne Claxton - Hockey
  • Danni Di Toro - Para Table Tennis
  • Rowie Webster - Water Polo
  • Alyce Wood (nee Burnett) - Sprint Kayak
  • Angus Armstrong - Athletics
  • Mitchell Gourley - Para Alpine Skiing
  • Anabelle Smith - Diving
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