Emily Augustine Champ Connect Interview
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has launched a peer support program called -Champ Connect', for aspiring athletes wearing the green and gold at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games taking place in Nanjing, China in August.
More than 60 Olympians, including Olympic medallists David Smith (Canoe/Kayak), David Guest (Hockey), Lyndsie Fogarty (Canoe/Kayak) and Andrew Lauterstein (Swimming) have signed up to the program.
'It is wonderful to see so many Olympians wanting to be involved and support our future Olympians," Chef de Mission and Olympic medallist Susie O'Neill said.
'I think it is their way of showing they want to give something back as well as the importance of the Olympic Games."
The program connects Australian Olympians with athletes who have been selected as part of the 2014 Australian Youth Olympic Team in an eight week mentoring program.
Olympians and aspiring athletes are encouraged to connect online and discuss their experiences and challenges, both on and off the sporting arena.
'There was no formal program when I was a young athlete," O'Neill said.
'However swimmer Donna Proctor took me under her wing and showed me what to do. She made me feel more comfortable in a team environment, more relaxed and my goals more attainable."
The multiple Olympic medallist is a strong believer in peer support and realises the value it can have for a young athlete.
'You don't know what the situation is going to be like, so to have a mentor who has been there and done that normalises what you are about to experience," she said.
Champ Connect is structured to focus on providing unique support for athletes in an inspiring and motivating environment.
The program also provides opportunities for Australian Olympians to give something back to the sport and build a unique relationship with our sporting champions of the future.
'I signed up to help these young athletes with the transition from national age group to international athletes," Olympian and hockey coach David Guest said.
'To set them on right track in the preparation for an Olympic Games so that they will feel more comfortable going into those environments."
Guest, who competed at the 2008 Olympic Games and won a bronze medal with the men's hockey team, wants also to share his off field advice.
'Being a coach, we are imparting our wisdom and teaching kids about how to play sport, but this is not only on field but off the field as well.
'I'd like to help them know what they can expect and how to act when representing Australia at the highest level."
Champ Connect is an initiative of the AOC and the peer support program will run for eight weeks in the lead up to and during the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
Australia will send approximately 90 outstanding young athletes to compete across 23 sports at the Youth Olympics, taking place in Nanjing, China, from 16 – 28 August 2014.
Interview with Emily Augustine
Question: What have you enjoyed most, so far, about the Champ Connect program?
Emily Augustine: The thing I enjoyed most about the champ connect program was the chance it gave me to talk to someone who is very experienced in my chosen field and gain some very helpful advice going into the Youth Olympics on a range of subjects like dealing with nerves and tips to do with health.
Question: Who have you been connected with for the Champ Connect program?
Emily Augustine: I was connected with Zoe Buckman who has represented Australia on numerous occasions mainly the 1500m.
Question: How has Olympian Zoe Buckman inspired your own personal athletics career?
Emily Augustine: She has definitely inspired me to continue to pursue my dream in middle-distance as it is known to be dominated by people from the African nations. Her recent appearance at the world championships in 2013 where she was Australia's first female representative in a world championships 1500m final certainly gave me the confidence to try and mix it up with the Africans and also be inspired for the future.
Question: How has connecting with Zoe Buckman helped with any concerns you had for the upcoming Youth Olympics?
Emily Augustine: It was very helpful as she was open to any questions I had in the lead up. She helped in providing strategies to deal with sleeping the night before a big event and healthy tips in staying healthy in the lead up. She also provided me with tips for after your race when telling people how you have gone and in answering questions.
Question: What have you learnt from Zoe Buckman, so far?
Emily Augustine: The three main things I learnt from Zoe Buckman, were to be courageous, find mental strength and keeping working on it, and how to deal with tough situations. All the advice and help she gave me was all inspirational and it was nice for her to take the time to answer any questions or queries that I had.
Question: What originally inspired you in athletics?
Emily Augustine: My first inspiration that really got me started has to be my sister. I followed in her footsteps by going to training with her and starting little athletics just as she did. She often went to junior nationals for cross country and track.
Question: How did you come to choose your event, 1500m?
Emily Augustine: As a young girl(7-9yrs old), like most people I would go down to the track for fun and trained with a sprints group. I would also participate in cross country at school and go for extra runs with the guidance of my sister. I soon realised sprinting wasn't really my thing, especially, as I was quite small and certainly not as strong as the other girls. I shifted more towards the longer distance for awhile, cross country being my favourite event. As I grew up, gained more strength and power on the track I started to be more competitive in the middle distance events as well as long distance running. So I as I have got faster, I have been able to come down from the 3000 meters and 1500m to the 1500m and 800m. The1500m is just the right distance for me, not too short and not too long and my confidence has grown as I started to have more positive performances.
Question: What are you looking forward to most about the Youth Olympic Games?
Emily Augustine: In the lead up to the games the thing I was most looking forward to was definitely representing Australia for the first time and receiving the Australian uniform, which I had dreamed about. Wearing the uniform for the first time felt great and even better competing in it! I was also definitely looking forward to making many new friends, meeting other athletes from different countries and competing in such a competitive environment. And as daunting as it was, running against the Kenyons and other African nation runners who are amazing.
Question: Can you talk us through your training schedule approaching the Youth Olympic Games?
Emily Augustine: First, I would train 2-3 times per week, on a Tuesday and Thursday being track work and Saturday would be hills/fartlek type sessions. My coach and my line of thought in approaching my training sessions was focused on the intensity of the sessions when approaching the games. The intensity of training increased, the volume decreased and the recovery was paramount. The main session that we focused on pre Nanjing was 1kms. I would aim to do 2/3x1km on 2:45-2:50 with about 15 minute recovery. We did this with the help of John Atterton's training group, with two guys (JP and Zac) that helped in pacing. As I train on a grass track, these sessions were undertaken at the tartan track In home bush to assist in getting the times down. Another key aspect of training was lots of speed work. Lastly, mental preparations were another key aspect. I undertook mental rehearsal most nights of my race and thought of the what if? Situations. As my plan was to make the A final for the 1500m, I would also rehearse my race plan.
Going into Nanjing was difficult as there was no real opportunities for race practice due to it being the winter season In Australia, so I was somewhat under prepared in race practice as my competitors were people from the northern hemisphere, who had been racing for the last 3-4 months in the peak part of their track year.
Question: What advice do you have for others who wish to begin competing in athletics?
Emily Augustine: I strongly recommend anyone who is even slightly considering to start competing in Athletics, by just joining a club and giving it a go. Don't wake up years later and wonder if you would have been any good.
Little Athletics is a great way to start getting involved as it introduces you to all the different events in a fun manner and doesn't force you to specialise. But for any age, athletics is such a fun form of exercising, so join a training group as this will keep you motivated to keep turning up even when its raining. The love of the sport will then drive and motivate you to push yourself to new limits, set boundaries and achieve short and long term goals. It's also great being an individual sport as all your hard work and effort will pay off and you reap the awards. However, you can also experience the team aspects in relays and club and state teams. These teams are another great opportunity to grow and there are many new friends and relationships to be formed along the way as you make excellent happen.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Photo: NSW Athletics.