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Having her family in her corner is Caitlin Parker’s secret to winning well

06 March 2024

As a soon-to-be two-time Olympian, seven-time Australian Champion, and Commonwealth Games silver and bronze medallist, boxer Caitlin Parker is not someone most people would associate with failure. But for Parker, failure is just part of the road to success, largely thanks to the supportive environment created by her family, who have been in her corner from the very beginning.

Olympian Caitlin Parker with her family
Olympian Caitlin Parker with her family

“I remember quite well when women's boxing was being introduced into the Olympics and as soon as I found that out, I was like, that's it. That's my goal,” Parker said.

“When I knew I was just old enough for the Rio 2016 Olympics, I put everything into it. I remember training every day. I'd miss sleepovers, parties, because that was my goal. I wanted it so badly.”

“But I went to the international qualifiers and just came short and that was tough. And I kind of didn't want to go home and face my family because I thought that I had let them down, that I didn't do enough.

“When I finally got home, I realised this is what I need to be around. I needed to be around the people that love and support me the most, and just learn to just change the goals.”

The commitment to creating an environment where athletes like Parker can feel safe to fail so they can learn, grow and succeed is one part of the vision of Australia's High Performance 2032+ Sport Strategy vision, "We Win Well to inspire Australians".

Win Well is the idea that physical, mental, emotional, and cultural wellbeing is the key to reaching your full potential and achieve sustainable success in both sport and life, and that how you win is just as important as when you win.

It’s a vision Parker is fully signed up to and said: “We’ve got that safe place to be able to push and to be able to bring out our best possible performance, knowing that we've got the love and support behind us.”

“Making the best possible environment where people can succeed, that's what the goal is. If you let people be great people and be themselves, then they're going to get the best performance.”

Olympian Caitlin Parker as a young boxer
Olympian Caitlin Parker as a young boxer

It was Parker’s father who first got her into boxing, telling the then 11-year-old she needed to be able to defend herself before being allowed to walk home alone from school. But his role went far beyond simply introducing her to the sport.

“I've been on the Australian team now for 12, 13 years,” Parker said. “And with that I've learned a lot and the commonality in all of it is that I know my family is always 100 per cent behind me.

“My parents sacrificed everything to get my brother and I to training and to be able to give us those opportunities and I've always been super grateful for that. And that's kind of a grounding thing to me.”

“My dad would be on the sidelines at the boxing gym always giving me advice and my mum, she's always been super supportive of me in the ring and is someone that I can turn to with anything and when things don't go my way.”

Caitlin Parker at the Tokyo Olympic Games
Caitlin Parker at the Tokyo Olympic Games

Parker’s first Games, the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, was one of those things.

“That was the happiest moment of my life when I qualified for those Games, but I didn't have my dream performance in the ring,” she recalls.

“I didn't perform anywhere near what I wanted to. And again, that was tough to take. But I remember this moment after my fight. I just sat there and said there's no way I'm going to let that happen again.”

“I have made changes since the Tokyo Olympics, and it's shown in the ring. And I've got a great team around me at the Victorian Institute of Sport and my home gym, Peninsula boxing gym. I have my amazing partner who supports me on top of my family.

“I know that when I come back, you know, I'm still Caitlin Parker. I'm not just a boxer, I've got a life and I've got people that love me no matter what. And so really leaning on that support network for me really helps me to win.”

Want to learn more about how athletes are bringing Australian sport's vision to 'win well and inspire Australians' to life? Click here to read about Olympic judokas and brother Nathan and Josh Katz.

You can also make your own commitment to win well but signing the pledge here.

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