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Olympics Unleashed off the mark to inspire NSW students

24 May 2019

OLYMPICS UNLEASHED: More than 200 students at Cronulla High School in Sydney’s south have become the first in NSW to host Olympians delivering the Olympics Unleashed program.

Brothers Nathan and Josh Katz, who represent Australia in judo, spoke to the students about their journey as athletes that took them to the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

Olympics Unleashed is a partnership between the Australian Olympic Committee and the New South Wales Government, which will see more than 100 athletes talking to high school students in NSW on how to set goals, overcome challenges and build self-esteem.

The Katz brothers said the students were keen to hear their real-life stories about the benefits of pursuing a passion and getting past the difficulties they each faced to become Olympians. 

“Everyone has an aspect in their life they want to excel in – whether its sport, academic, or any other aspect of their life,” Josh said. “It’s really encouraging to see our story connect with the students and see how they can relate it to their own lives.

“I shared a photo of my loss at Rio 2016 where I also tore my shoulder ligaments, a photo that was used in media around the world. It’s not a picture I enjoy looking at, but I wanted to pass on that being able to look at that moment of failure and move on and grow from it is vital. Failure is a part of any journey and students can take that on.”

“It was a really good experience to see how engaged the students were,” Nathan said. “Having time to answer personal questions and connect at that personal level was a highlight for me.”

The program, aimed at year nine students, is open to every secondary school in New South Wales, giving more than 85,000 students across 850 schools the opportunity to learn from Olympic athletes.

Josh Nathan Katz

AOC Chief Executive Officer Matt Carroll said since NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian launched the program in March this year, more than 180 schools have signed up.

“The response from the school community has been extraordinary,” Mr Carroll said.

“Olympians have unique stories of hard work, resilience and overcoming challenges to be the best they can be. These are hard things to teach, but through their stories, Olympians have the ability to connect with students.

“Olympics Unleashed goes beyond sport - the stories apply in the classroom and in the personal lives of students to help them become their very best.

“Importantly, they talk about how success is almost never a straight road, that overcoming failure is learnt along the way - lessons every student can use in their own lives.

“The AOC is committed to use the spirit of the Olympics, the power of sport, to make a difference for students across the country.”

NSW Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said she is thrilled the Government can deliver such a significant program right across the state.

“I think it’s so important for children to engage with sporting activities during school, because not only does it promote a healthy lifestyle, it also encourages camaraderie,” Ms Mitchell said. “The fact these children can engage with Olympians in the classroom will be hugely inspiring, and I look forward to watching students across the state benefit from this program.”

Paris Tsiorvas, Acting Head Teacher Secondary Studies at Cronulla High School, said it was an amazing experience to have Olympians providing their stories in class.

“Nathan and Josh were engaging and relatable and really inspired our students today,” Ms Tsiorvas said.

“A focus for Year 9 at Cronulla High School this year is goal setting and motivation and each student has set three personal goals they’re working to achieve this year. Having Olympians in person discussing how to overcome challenges and chase down your own goals resonated really well with that. I was cheering that on as a win for us, to hear those messages from another source to really connect with the students.”

Olympics Unleashed also provides schools with lesson plans with each visit, that reinforce the athletes’ messages and align with the curriculum.

Schools can register for the program now and find out more information at www.olympicsunleashed.com.au.


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