By Petria Thomas
In a normal world, today would be Day 4 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
There would already have been medals, celebrations, and disappointments, with those of us supporting from home sitting on the edge of our seats watching Australia’s best take on the world.
However, 2020 is anything but normal and our thoughts are with all those Olympic and Paralympic athletes who would have been competing in Tokyo living their lifetime dream.
We truly hope your day will come in twelve months’ time.
We recognise what a difficult time it has been in recent months and want to thank and celebrate those who have been working tirelessly both on the front lines and behind the scenes to keep us all as safe as possible.
Whilst sport has rightly taken a back seat, as it becomes safe to do so we believe that participation in sport, from the community level right through to the high-performance level has the power to aid in our nation’s and the world’s recovery.
Despite the upheaval caused by COVID-19, the clock keeps ticking and today marks two years to the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
It will be Anna’s sixth Games, after four as an athlete and her role as an ambassador for the Gold Coast Games.
Anna always had an uncompromising approach which undoubtedly was one of her trademarks and also the reasons for her success over nearly 15 years at the very top of her sport.
We look forward to Anna bringing that mindset to the team in a management role.
She overcame significant setbacks during her career on the bike, so she understands that not everything goes your way.
All of her experiences will help in creating a team environment in Birmingham that allows every team member to do their best work and have a positive and memorable experience.
Earlier this month we conducted a ‘virtual visit’ to Birmingham for meetings with the local organising committee.
They too are working remotely, with some staff yet to work out of the HQ in Birmingham.
However, their commitment on delivering the best Games possible is undeniable.
Their plans will change often.
The Games have already been put back by a day to start on 28th July and we will be flexible with our planning to match.
We’d all prefer certainty, but that’s not how this preparation will play out. We must and will be flexible, with everything we do.
Plans will be developed and torn up, altered, and revised… that is how it will be and we will be flexible and nimble to cater for any challenges that are thrown our way.
We will look for the positives.
Changes to the world sporting calendar provide a great opportunity for our sports and athletes.
The Olympics, Paralympics, Winter Olympics, Winter Paralympics and Commonwealth Games will all be conducted within 12 months. Add in world championships and other major competitions and tournaments in many sports and it will be a bumper year of sport.
Most Australians love cheering for the Green and Gold and this will provide a great opportunity to maintain momentum during this time. An unprecedented opportunity which we will grasp.
Funding support is crucial.
I was thrilled to see the Federal government commitment confirming that overall funding to high-performance sport will be maintained across this period through to 2022.
The Government has committed its support to our sports and athletes and we now await details from the AIS on how this funding will contribute to the success of our team in Birmingham, and the achievement of the Government’s stated goal – to be No.#1 nation in the Commonwealth.
AIS Chair John Wylie reminded us all at the CGA annual meeting last year of the importance of the Commonwealth Games to Australian sport and our athletes, speaking passionately about its importance.
Many on the Birmingham team will be our future sporting champions.
Just success at the Commonwealth Games gave Anna and me the belief that we could become Olympic and World champions, so too will the experience of our Birmingham team members provide a platform for their future success.
Our history is full of these examples.
As we have seen with the recent 50-year anniversary celebrations of the 1970 Edinburgh Games, pages in Australia’s sporting history are written at each and every edition of the Commonwealth Games. Being part of an Australian Commonwealth Games team is something special.
It provides an opportunity for a diverse range of sports, athletes, coaches, support staff and administrators, with all-important support and contribution from our system partners, to come together and feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. This is why our team motto is GREATER TOGETHER.
Stay safe and well and look after each other.