AOC Launches Road to Rio Program
18 November 2014
RIO 2016: Some 21 months out from the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, the Australian Olympic Committee today launched Road to Rio: IGNITE in Sydney.
The AOC program- effectively a workshop for Rio rookies and capped Olympians aiming for Brazil- focuses on 120 years of Australian Olympic tradition and the responsibility that comes with being a member of that Team.
Instilling a strong culture and values system is paramount to the AOC this Olympiad, with ‘unity of purpose’ one of the three Team pillars developed by the AOC leadership group- alongside a top five finish and giving all athletes a ‘life best experience.’
“We want ‘complete athletes’ who are aware of their responsibilities, who carry themselves with integrity, who are respectful of their teammates and their competitors, and who continue our proud Olympic heritage… the Australian way,” Kitty Chiller, the 2016 Australian Chef de Mission said.
“We need to play hard but fair, show respect and humility, and ensure we are a Team that all Australians can be proud of.”
Chiller and the AOC believe IGNITE can begin this process, and 12 IGNITE sessions will be run throughout Australia from November 2014 through to March 2015 for athletes and officials aiming for Rio.
Symbolising the lighting of the cauldron or the start of the Olympic journey, IGNITE enables lessons to be passed on in person from inspirational Olympians.
At the first sessions this week, Sydney athletes heard from legends including Katrina Powell OAM (hockey - 1996, 2000, 2004 Olympian), Dennis Green OAM (canoe-flatwater - 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972), Melinda Gainsford-Taylor (athletics - 1992, 1996, 2000), Robin Bell (canoe-slalom –2000, 2004, 2008), Matt Shirvington (athletics - 2000) and Team motivator, Laurie Lawrence.
Rio hopefuls also heard from the AOC Team leadership group to gain an understanding of the Australian Olympic Team objectives and the Rio environment.
“The Olympics are always at the foreground of your mind and this really helps you focus and gets you excited,” dual Olympian Dani Samuels said.
“The Games are now less than two years away and in sporting terms that will go really fast.”
Samuels, a former World Champion and the current Commonwealth Games Champion in discus, attended IGNITE alongside athletes from 13 different sports. She had wise words for those athletes hoping that Rio will be their Olympic debut.
“My advice to athletes striving for their first Olympic Team is to soak up all the information and feed off other people. The reason there is so much hype around the Olympics is because they are so special and not like any other event. Make sure you enjoy every step of the experience!”
As water polo Olympic medallist, Holly Lincoln-Smith explains: “on the day of IGNITE we’ll all be a Team working towards the same goal- just like we are when we get to the Olympics.”
A cornerstone of the campaign will be the Team’s ASPIRE values- an acronym for Attitude, Sportsmanship, Pride, Individual Responsibility, Respect and Express Yourself.
These values will be incorporated in stage two of the Road to Rio- ASPIRE starting in June 2015 which will also involve uniform fittings and more specific features to prepare athletes for the first Olympic Games in South America.
As the BBQ lights up at IGNITE, the proverbial journey to Rio kicks off. Athletes from different sports are already sharing knowledge and building friendships to assist them on their road to Rio.
The AOC has a budget of $18.7 million to prepare and send the Team to Rio.