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Blair Evans reflects on rewarding Champions 2 Country tour

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For two-time Commonwealth Games medallist Blair Evans participating in the Champions 2 Country tour gave her a “rewarding experience” as she and a group of Australian Olympians and Paralympians ventured into regional Western Australia last month.

The Champions 2 Country program is an initiative of Commonwealth Games Australia’s Western Australia’s state office and aims to share the sporting achievements and experiences of elite athletes to inspire the youth in remote communities by addressing topics such as healthy living, develop teamwork and leadership attributes, respect and motivation to achieve goals.

The swimming star was joined by athletics and soccer Paralympian Brad Scott, sailing Olympian Belinda Stowell OAM and Olympic water polo player Zoe Arancini in the tour group visiting the Pilbara region of northern Western Australia.

Throughout the week the quartet of athletes completed a range of activities taking place across Karratha and Port Hedland, meeting with children and community members.

It wasn’t only meeting the community members which Evans enjoyed, but learning about the stories of the fellow athletes in the tour group.

“Being able to engage with the regional communities and see their passion and enthusiasm to meet the athletes and listen to our stories was amazing,” Evans said.

“It was also incredible to hear the journeys and challenges the other athletes shared whilst on tour, each reinforcing the key attributes for success such as consistency, setting goals, working hard through the challenging times and the importance of self-belief.

“We all have had such diverse backgrounds and obstacles to achieve our goals and hopefully by sharing these stories we can motivate and inspire people to chase their own dreams.”

Blair Evans participating in the Champions 2 Country tour. (Supplied)

 

The tour also provided Evans, who competed in Delhi and the Gold Coast, in addition to the London and Rio Olympic Games, and her fellow athletes an opportunity to learn about the indigenous clans who reside in the Pilbara region, an opportunity Evans was grateful for increasing her understanding of indigenous culture and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples connection to the land.

“As a tour group we were invited to attend a special ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony at the Murujuga National Park, located at Hearson’s Cove on the Burrup Peninsula in Dampier,” Evans said.

“We had an amazing tour hosted by the Murujuga Rangers, learning the history of the region, spiritual links, encoded messages in the rock art and examples of bush medicine used for healing.

“It was an amazing experience and increased my understanding of the indigenous culture and connection to the land.”

Blair Evans participating in the Champions 2 Country tour. (Supplied)

 

Evans believes the Champions 2 Country program provides an important opportunity to show children and young athletes that elite athletes experience the same challenges they do, but it is how you respond to the challenges which takes you to the elite level.

“The Champions 2 Country is a great initiative to get athletes out into the regions,” Evans said.

“I believe it is important for regional children to hear that athletes are ‘real people’, have challenges, set-backs and make mistakes… but it is how we respond and the hard work and consistency that we put in which helped us to achieve our goals and dreams.

“Sharing these messages was important so each child understands that with the right attitude and determination they can aspire to achieve their own goals and dreams, whatever they may be.”

The athletes on tour at the Murujuga National Park. (Supplied)

 

After a week of events in the community, there was one moment which resonates most for the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

“The whole tour was incredible,” Evans said.

“If I had to choose a favourite part [of the tour] it would have been attending the Pilbara Spirit Carnival.

“This activity invited 180 indigenous children from Port Hedland and the surrounding remote aboriginal communities, such as Yandyarra and Jigalong to participate in a swimming and pool lifesaving carnival hosted by Royal Lifesaving WA (RLSWA).

“The whole day had an emphasis on participation and fun whilst developing swimming and water safety skills.

“I was able to join in the aquatic games component and support the children have fund and love of the water which was fantastic.”

The Pilbara Spirit Carnival. (Supplied)

 

The Champions 2 Country program is a joint initiative of Commonwealth Games Australia (WA), The Australian Olympic Committee and the Government of Western Australia, via funding through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

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