85 students receive Pierre de Coubertin Award for sportsmanship

3 July 2018

EDUCATION: Since Pierre de Coubertin founded the Olympic Movement in 1894, athletes haven striven to live and compete by the Olympic values each day.

Now, each year students who live by the same values are honoured with the Pierre de Coubertin Award.

This weekend 85 secondary school students were presented with the award in Sydney, for their outstanding sportsmanship and overall dedication to pursuing excellence.

Although possessing outstanding sporting ability, these students were invited to the ceremony not because of their sporting prowess but because of the values they stand for - values which mirror those celebrated by the Olympics.

The Pierre de Coubertin Awards ceremony is a great opportunity for students to meet Olympians, learn about the Olympic Movement and see what goes into making the Olympic Games run smoothly.

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Olympians who attended the awards included Shelley Watts, Jarryd Hughes, Jared Tallent, Nicola Zagame and Amy Hetzel Jones.

Each Olympian shared with the students their own Olympic journey and personal story. They also answered questions about their individual experiences at the Olympics.

The students also had the chance to show off their best fighting moves in a boxing class taught by Watts.

Watts, who has attended multiple Pierre de Coubertin days, said she is grateful for the opportunity to meet the students and pass on her advice for success.

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“The tips to be successful across all platforms are the same,” Watts said.

“I believe to be successful, you need to believe in yourself, be willing to work hard, show respect and be disciplined and willing to deal with sacrifices and setbacks.

“If you can do these things, success will be inevitable in any arena.”

Silver medallist Hughes discussed the differences between his experiences at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games before congratulating each student as they received their award.

The theme of the day was sportsmanship, and Hughes believes this is the most important value to have in any sport.

“Sportsmanship is the biggest Olympic value that I always cherish,” Hughes said.

“What happens on the field, as long as you can walk away as friends, knowing you gave it your all and enjoying every moment of it.”

Among those honoured was student and hockey player Sarah Askey from PLC Armidale.

Askey believes the Pierre de Coubertin award is important in recognizing athletes who may not be the best player on the field but have a great attitude or leadership presence.

“It’s not just about my ability as a player but also what I stand for which is something I try and pride myself on the hockey field, just making a difference for other people and being a role model for others,” Askey said.

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Askey said her sport has taught her to never give up, and she felt inspired by the Olympians’ stories of perseverance at the ceremony.

“There’s been a lot of disappointment, but it’s just working through that really,” Askey said.

“Their hard work and what they put into their sport is just crazy, and what they do for it makes you really think about the effort they have to put in.”

Nicole Booth

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