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Nettie Edmondson Blog: The Pride of being an Olympian

Nettie Edmondson

I still remember the day our coach, Gary Sutton sat my track teammates, Josie Tomic, Melissa Hoskins and Amy Cure and I down the day before the 2012 Olympic Cycling Team was to be announced. We were on camp in Holland, sitting on the lounge in the corner of Sutto’s cabin. He said, “Tomorrow, you will be named an Olympian. You will become part of an elite club for the rest of your life. This is something that no one can ever take away from you.” Those words gave me goosebumps, and they still do today.

On Saturday night I was invited to attend the South Australian Olympic Committee’s annual Olympian’s dinner. This was the first time I was able to attend after my schedule saw me racing in Europe for the last three years. As soon as I walked into the room, I immediately felt a sense of pride. Scattered throughout the room of 150 people, were 36 men and women of varied ages, proudly wearing their Olympic blazers, just as I was.

Throughout the evening the SA Olympic Committee decided to read out the names of the 36 Olympians who had managed to attend, asking us to stand up as our name was called. I couldn’t help but beam as I stood and gazed around at the other athletes, who all shared a common connection; a connection of sport, of dedication and passion – a connection which saw us all compete for our country at the highest level. It was so lovely to have a night to wear that Olympic Blazer and be recognised, alongside athletes who had to go through so much more, so much adversity with so little support. It really did put everything into perspective for me. Most of today’s athletes are privileged in that their elite ranks are recognised and supported by the Australian government enabling them to be a sustainable career choice. I am so lucky to have the support of the Australian Government, the Australian Institute of Sport and WiggleHigh5, who provide me with everything I need in order to go and compete to the best of my ability for my country. Some sports are obviously more funded more than others, but nowadays, if you make an Australian Olympic Team, each and every athlete is given enough support to be able to compete, which certainly wasn’t the case back in the day, like for David Schumacher, a wrestler from the 1956 Games, who I was lucky enough to meet.

It also made me realise just how much sport can mean to people. To have someone to follow at the Olympics, someone local, someone you have met, or even someone you don’t know who has been selected to wear the green and gold means a great deal to some. I often get so caught up in my own processes that I forget how many others are involved, even if not directly. It’s not just a race for yourself or your family. It’s not just for your immediate circle, like our World Championships can become. It’s 28 different sports, competing in the same competition at the same time, for the same reward. Everyone is given an equal spotlight – no gold medal is worth more than another. The Olympics is for the entire country; it really brings Australia together, athletes, family, friends, supporters and fans alike, like a family.

And that’s really what it felt like on Saturday night. The South Australian portion of a wonderful family, that I am very proud to be a part of.

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