Meet with a Champ celebrates Melbourne 1956 Games

Melbourne session ©

Victorian senior students experienced an exciting insight into the life of an elite athlete and Olympic champion this week as the AOC’s ‘Meet with a Champ’ program ventured to Melbourne and Ballarat.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Melbourne 1956 Olympic Games students from all over Victoria were lucky enough to meet several of Australia’s best Olympians and share in the Olympic movement.

On Tuesday, Belinda Hocking (Swimming – 2008, 2012 and 2016), Travis Mahoney (Swimming – 2016) and Rhydian Cowley (Athletics – 2016) shared an insight into life in the pool and on the track to over 100 Melbourne students.

The one-hour discussion featured experiences from how the athletes became involved in their sport, the positive impact it’s had on their lives as well as their journeys to the Olympic Games.

“I love being able to share my story of where I began and how I started, so that kids can relate, and that I am still a normal person,” said Hocking who represented Australia at three separate Olympic Games.

“I still get nervous and I still have good and bad days and there are still things that I want to achieve.”

Hocking said that the session was a lot of fun and hoped students walked away thinking anything is possible.

“No matter the age everyone has the ability to set their own life path and choose the direction that they want to go, I think that is something that is very unique and special to everyone in the world.”

Continuing to spread the Olympic spirit, Rhydian Cowley then joined fellow 2016 Rio Olympian Kotuku Ngawati and Olympic legend Steve Moneghetti at Ballarat High School on Wednesday.

The trio spoke to students from Ballarat, as well as visiting schools, outling the struggle of balancing life as an elite athlete as well as reminiscing on when they too were inspired by Olympians.

“I remember being at Knox Little Athletics when 110m Hurdler Kyle Van De Kuyp visited - it was his old Little Athletics Center,” said Cowley.

“While still at high school I had the chance to interact with many Olympians in my own event at various meets, which helped me feel like Olympians were real people too, and that they were relatable to people from all levels of sport.

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.

Ashleigh Knight