Olympians inspire NSW Pierre de Coubertin recipients

23 September 2016

EDUCATION: 90 outstanding secondary students from New South Wales have been presented with the Pierre de Coubertin award today, after displaying the Olympic ideals of fair play and sportsmanship.

The annual award recognises Year 11 and 12 students who are active participants in sport and demonstrate the ideals of the Olympic movement in their work.

Each school can nominate one student, with 90 schools from across the state represented.

Maklia Gordon, who is in Year 10 at Cobar High School, drove eight hours with her mum and sister to get to the presentation at the New South Wales Institute of Sport at Homebush.

She received the award for a piece she wrote on what inspired her about the Rio Games.

“I wrote about swimming and why it is my favourite sport and how it has inspired me to do better. I also found it incredibly inspiring to watch the women’s team win rugby sevens gold as I play touch rugby,” Gordon said.

“It was fantastic to be chosen for the award. I am so glad I drove all this way.”

Year 12 student Joshua Stevens, from Scots College, took home the award for a story he wrote about the North Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club.

“I wrote about how the Olympic Games are inspiring and they bring people around the world together. I also do swimming and triathlon so I enjoyed watching the Rio Games. Watching Kyle (Chalmers) win was awesome, mainly because we are the same age.”

For Whitebridge High School student Katherine Tennant, it was exciting to hear four different journeys to the Olympics, from both winter and summer athletes.

The Year 12 student won the award for her work coaching and competing in the Olympic sport of trampoline.

“Steph’s [Magiros] story was particularly inspiring for me because she began snowboarder later, at 17 years-old,” Whitebridge said.

Tennant has met dual Olympic trampoline competitor Blake Gaudry at several competitions and aspires to one day be Australia’s first Olympic female trampoline competitor.

“I have met Blake and heard his story, but every time you hear another athlete’s experience at the Olympics it makes you want to push harder in your sport.

“Today’s talk has really made me want to keep training and win a national title next year.”

In addition to receiving their awards, the students heard from four Olympians; Cameron Girdlestone, Michelle Jenneke, Lisa Darmanin and Stephanie Magiros.

Girdlestone, a Rio silver medallist in the men’s quad sculls, said it was exciting to share his sporting experience with the teenagers.

“For me it is a way to help others, hopefully be inspired by my words and maybe one day successfully achieve their individual goals they have set,” Girdlestone said.

The four athletes focused on the how the Australiana Olympic Team A.S.P.I.R.E values (attitude, sportsmanship, pride, individual responsibility, respect and express yourself) can relate to the lives of all young Australians, in sport and in education.

“Each character trait you develop through life and in sport will help you in so many ways,” Girdlestone told students.

Stephanie Magiros, a gymnast turned snowboarder at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, shared her transition from one elite sport to another and the values she felt reflected the Olympic movement.

“Being a great sportsman and supporting your fellow team members, dedication to your sport and 100% commitment to training as hard as you can and competing to the best of your ability,” Magiros said.

Nacra 17 sailor Darmanin spoke about her Games debuts in Rio, where she claimed silver alongside cousin and sailing partner Jason Waterhouse.

“It was exciting to actually explain the complexities of a sailing race,” Darmanin said.

“Hopefully we inspired a few more Olympians in whatever sport they choose.”

Students were presented with their Pierre de Coubertin certificates by NSW Olympic Council President Helen Brownlee, in a ceremony hosted by water polo player and Beijing bronze medallist Amy Heztel.

Ashleigh Knight

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