By Maddison Jeffery
Shantelle Thompson is no ordinary athlete.
The two-time jiu-jitsu world champion doesn’t come from a lengthy blood line of elite athletes, in fact, no one in her family played sport.
Growing up in Dareton, a small town in the far west of New South Wales to a single father raising four children – opportunities were scarce.
“As the oldest kid in the house and the only girl, I had responsibilities to help look after my younger siblings,” Thompson explains.
“I didn’t have many opportunities to play sport… financially it just wasn’t possible.”
It was after the birth of her twins, when Thompson developed post-natal depression that she turned to jiu-jitsu as an escape – a decision that changed the course of her life.
The sport gave her an outlet and became a healing process for her mind.
Known to her indigenous community as the ‘Barkindji Warrior’, Thompson said she proved her mental strength after winning her first world title.
“I was speaking to my Aunty who is an elder in the community, she told me I had always been a warrior but now people finally see me as the Barkindji Warrior.”
A title Thompson takes very seriously and role models frequently in her community, influencing youth leadership and female empowerment through programs she initiated.
Two years ago at the age of 31, Thompson set her sights on wrestling which unlike jiu-jitsu is recognised on the Commonwealth Games program.
More specifically, the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games program.
International travel for competitions means Thompson’s Dad, Grandmother and three children are yet to see her compete, a home Games is a welcomed change.
“… being able to compete on home soil, in front of my family and friends would be a true gift,” she said.
“You’re on a journey with everyone, not just yourself, which holds so much power in it,”
“wearing your country’s colours – for me, will make me stand that little bit taller.”
Thompson continues to prove her competitiveness during her campaign to GC2018.