Laura Waldie 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 Laura Waldie
Question: What information have you learnt so far from Olympian Sara Corrigan with the Champ Connect program?
Laura Waldie: Sara has been an incredible mentor so far, because she can relate directly to the situation you are in. As I am in grade 12, juggling school work and assessment while competing at the games seems at first quite a difficult task. However, as Sara faced a similar barrier she was able to give me some tips regarding studying and time management.
Question: How has Sara Corrigan helped you in preparing for the upcoming Youth Olympic Games?
Laura Waldie: Sara has given my advice regarding nerves and the value of training. This not only helped me look at the games in a different perspective but also value the journey and preparation phase as much as the final competition. Sara also passed on some of her favourite inspirational quotes which contue to drive me forward to this day.
Question: Can you talk us through your event at the Youth Olympic Games?
Laura Waldie: My event at these games is rugby sevens, which for those who don't know if a modified version of 15 aside rugby union, with a shorter time period (7 minute halves) and only 7 players on the field per team. This means a lot more running and a lot more tries. At these games we compete in the first 4 days, where we play 2 games per day. There are teams from Cananda, China, Spain, Tunisia and USA, all of which will be highly competitive.
Question: When did you first become serious about the sport?
Laura Waldie: My sport, Rugby Sevens, is relatively new thus I only started playing it a year ago. However, my touch background this provided the foundations for many of the skills required in seven. Therefore, I became serious about rugby sevens about 10 months ago after being introduced to the game in August last year.
Question: How does it feel to be selected for the Youth Olympic Games?
Laura Waldie: Honestly, no words can describe the excitement and astonishment I felt when I found out I had the opportunity to participate in these Youth Olympic Games. It feels so surreal. Its bizarre to think that a little girl from Brisbane State High School who started playing sevens last year is now travelling to the Youth Olympic Games. It feels beyond incredible.
Question: What are you most looking forward to at the Youth Olympic Games?
Laura Waldie: Absolutely everything, both on and off the field. Primarily, the competiveness of this sport internationally and having the honour to wear the Australian jersey. However on a broader note I am really looking forward to the general atmosphere of the games. From the village, to the cultural events to diversity of the athletes.
Question: Can you talk us through your training schedule approaching the Youth Olympic Games?
Laura Waldie: Approaching these games has been quite an intense training schedule as this sport requires a multitude of elements and physical demands. For the past couple of months I have had about 14-15 training sessions per week. These vary from gym sessions, to speed, to conditioning, to skills to games. These sessions were primarily organised externally while others are individual trainings. However it never really feels like a huge hassle because of the diversity of the sessions and the kindness of all the teams and coaches.
Question: How will your diet develop over the coming months, approaching the Youth Olympic Games?
Laura Waldie: A heathy diet is paramount in helping enhance ones athleticism and overall performance. Thus, over the past months and in the coming months my diet has slightly altered. The main shift is eating more proteins and less carboydrates, this is to asssit not only in my recover between sessions but also in the aiding of my muslces in general. However, overall my diet remains pretty similar with an increase in proteins and decrease in fatyy foods and desserts etc., stuff that is in the broader scope unnessary.
Question: What advice do you have for young athletes hoping to compete in the Youth Olympic Games, in the future?
Laura Waldie: Well, I am still young so hopefully my advice can be relatable, but its quite simple. Don't give up. Don't give in. Finish every training session like you put in 110%, because if you didn't there is no point being there. It won't be easy, it never is. But you have just got to push that little bit harder than everyone else. What is your point of difference? Do you eat better? Do extra sessions? Stay back and work on individual skills? This opportunity is literally once in a lifetime, and only a few athletes get the chance to experience it. So go for it, give it your all. What puts you that one step in front?
Interview by Brooke Hunter Photo: olympics.com.au
L-R; Jessica Fox, Laura Waldie, Susie O'Neill