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Olympic medallists inspire UTS students

13 October 2016

Olympic gold medallist Sharni Williams and Rio team members Shelley Watts, Lea Yanitsas and Hayder Shkara addressed over 50 university students today in Sydney as part of the Australian Olympic Committee’s (AOC) ‘Meet with a Champ’ education program.

The session hosted by the University of Technology Sydney provided the opportunity for young Australians to hear how Olympic athletes become involved in sport, the highs and lows they experience along the way as well as the exhilaration of competing at the Olympic Games.

UTS proved to be an appropriate backdrop for the Q&A style session, being the home of the Australian Centre for Olympic Studies which aims to provide a national focus for Olympic studies in Australia.

Captain of the gold medal winning women’s seven side, Williams said sharing her experience with students of all ages is a blessing.

“I have had the most amazing journey I could ever ask for so if I can inspire one person to live life to the fullest then I’ll be very chuffed,” said Williams who before the Rio Olympics worked as a mechanic.

Williams, who still has a huge smile on her face whenever she looks at the gold medal hanging around her neck, says the Olympic movement can be used as an education tool across many facets of life.

“Educating people gives us the tools to make better decisions.

“If I can pass on some of my sporting knowledge it can be transferred in many different ways, like team work which can be transferred into the work force.” 

The one-hour discussion centred on the importance of values in sport as well as many of the difficult life choices the athletes have had to make.

After an initial video highlights package, the Olympians spoke for over an hour and then moved into the audience to meet the students, sign autographs and have their photo taken.

UTS Staff member, Anirudha Saha said it was a great privilege and pleasure to host the Olympians.

“We wanted our students to learn from such athletes on how they balance between personal and professional life,” said Saha who explained that UTS aims to find role models like these Olympians, to motivate and inspire students before busy exam periods.  

“For a lot of students, these are their heroes growing up.

“The opportunity to meet and hear from these athletes will definitely create a positive impact for the future.

“The ups and down in an athlete's life can be related to life in general of a normal student. Hearing the journey of such Olympians will inspire students to be successful."

Meet with a Champ sessions are held around the country during the year and at each event feature outstanding Olympians, who share with aspiring athletes the positive impact sport has had on their lives.

Meet with a Champ is just one part of the a.s.p.i.r.e. school network, the AOC’s education program, which uses the Olympic sport traditions and values to teach life values and life skills.

For more information about Olympic education and how to participate visit the AOC website – www.olympics.com.au or contact Ashleigh Knight 02 8436 2144.

Ashleigh Knight
olympics.com.au

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