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Kerri Pottharst: Destined for Sydney Gold

1 September 2010

When Kerri Pottharst, Natalie Cook and Lauren Burns were on a golf course ten years ago, Cook took a ten foot putt and claimed “If I get this in we will all win gold in Sydney 2000”.

All three won Olympic gold - Pottharst and Cook in beach volleyball and Burns in taekwondo which was new to the Olympic program.

Pottharst and Cook always had a feeling that 2000 was their time, despite facing reigning Olympic champions and world number one Brazil in the final. They prepared with a ‘success’ coach who taught them to walk over broken glass, collected gold trinkets for luck and had medal cases ready in anticipation of winning.

“We had no fear, we were in the zone,” Pottharst said. “I hadn’t been that focused ever before and perhaps ever since. We were enjoying every moment, we were having a lot of fun.”

The final was a match with all the drama the 10,000 capacity Bondi-colosseum deserved, showcasing a brilliant Sydney landmark and inspirational Aussie courage. Pottharst and Cook made heroic comebacks in both sets, claiming victory at 12-11, 12-10.

The 15th September 2010 marks 10 years since the Sydney Olympic Games and Pottharst is among countless athletes who will be returning to Sydney Olympic Park to celebrate the anniversary.

“It is amazing to remember Sydney 2000. It really is a unique opportunity for us to be remembered individually. It’s very humbling”. Pottharst said.

“I will never forget walking through the tunnel onto the field for the Opening Ceremony. It was so incredibly loud, everybody was cheering. There was so much excitement in the stadium.”

Pottharst and Cook will return to the field of play this September with 1200 schoolchildren to carry on the Sydney 2000 legacy and teach them Olympic values. The kids will then challenge their heroes in a series of Olympic and Paralympic events.
 
In 2000, thousands cheered on Pottharst as she carried the Olympic torch across Bondi Beach the day before the Games began. Once her own competition was over, Pottharst kept her gold medal around her neck and was constantly mobbed by excited Aussies.

“We got free taxis, free entry to anything, free drinks. It was an incredibly exciting time. I tried to go to absolutely everything during the games. It was great, you just flashed your gold medal and you could get into anything!” Pottharst said.

Since Sydney 2000 Pottharst has married and has a four-year-old son. Pottharst is now a motivational speaker, holds goal-setting workshops and hosts corporate beach volleyball events.


Taya Conomos
AOC

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