PyeongChang Olympians inspire next generation during Welcome Home tour
PYEONGCHANG 2018: One month since Australia wrapped up its successful PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic campaign, the Team have kicked off Welcome Home celebrations in Melbourne.
With a visit to North Fitzroy Primary School, Maribyrnong Sports Academy, sponsor lunches with DOW and Toyota, and a special visit to the Starlight Room at the Royal Children’s Hospital, the athletes relished the opportunity to share their Olympic experiences with communities back home.
Triple Olympian and Melbournian Britt Cox said the visit to Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital was the highlight of her day.
“By far the most special part of today was coming to the Starlight Foundation,” she said.
“To see the kids’ faces just light up when we came in here and talked to them and shared a little bit of our experiences at the Olympics in Korea, to see their energy and for them to come up and say that we’ve made their day was really special.”
While mogul skier Matt Graham and boarder cross athlete Jarryd Hughes’ silver medals were hot property of the day, when the athletes shared their journeys on how they became Olympic athletes, they spoke to an entirely captivated audience.
This was a particularly unique experience for 18-year-old snowboard halfpipe Olympian Emily Arthur, who is only just finishing off her final year of school this year, having decided to study year-12 over two years to pursue her sporting career.
“I remember when I was at school an Olympian came to visit and it’s just so cool having someone there who has done something you really want to do and it just pushes you so much,” she said.
“You’re sitting there thinking ‘wow this really happens to people, maybe it could happen to me if I work hard enough.’ So hopefully I can inspire some of the people at the high school, and they think ‘well if she could do it while graduating high school, then maybe I can too.’”
Mogul Skier Jakara Anthony, who finished fourth on debut at PyeongChang, said the Welcome Home experience was not what she had predicted.
“The Welcome Home tour has been even better than I expected,” she said. “It’s pretty cool to go around and see so many different aspects of the people that supported us from back home.
“It’s pretty inspiring to see the affect all of us athletes can have. Especially as Olympians, people look up to us – I know I did before I was an Olympian and I still look up to other Olympians now, so it’s pretty cool to be able to share that and inspire others.”
Having been to three Olympic Games by the age of 23, Cox said it was overwhelming to see the “impact we have as athletes on the young people of Australia.”
“For me, I feel like as an athlete I have a responsibility to be a good role model and to inspire other people, but it’s not just a responsibility, I want to do that,” she said.
“Growing up I was inspired by other athletes and I found I learnt a lot from them, so to be able to give back to the community in that way means a lot to me and I really do care about it.”
The celebrations continue in Melbourne today with the formal Welcome Home ceremony for the 2018 Australian Olympic Team to be held at the O’Brien Group Arena in Docklands.