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Rookies and veterans learning on the ASPIRE road to Rio

29 March 2016

TEAM: The Australian Olympic Team ASPIRE roadshow continued in Canberra on Tuesday with over 70 athletes learning about the Rio Olympic Games and being inspired by Australia’s rich Olympic history. There was also plenty of talk about what is expected of great team members and maming sure every athlete is prepared for a life best experience.

There was plenty of tall, strong athletes at the Australian Institute of Sport with the women’s basketball squad and a big contingent of rowers standing, out from the crowd.

Women’s basketball captain Penny Taylor is on her fourth Olympic campaign. Silver medals in 2004 and 2008 were cruelly followed by a serious knee injury in 2012 which ruled her out. She is especially motivated to lead her team in Brazil.

“After being forced to watch London on television I am even more determined to have a great Games with these girls,” Taylor said. “Every campaign feels different, as there are always five or six new girls in the squad. It is hard to get all the girls together with their playing commitments around the world, so to have everyone here for ASPIRE is fantastic.”

Coach Brendan Joyce had ‘the hairs on the back of his neck standing-up’ during the highlights videos from past Games and he is confident his Team will create more inspirational moments in 2016.

World champion rower Kim Brennan did a Q&A with MC Natalie Cook, who has been to Rio over 20 times. Brennan has trained on the rowing course and had plenty useful tips on not drinking unsafe water and personal safety at night.

Brennan is looking to improve on the history making silver and bronze medals from London 2012, when she chases gold in the single scull in Lake Lagoa in central Rio de Janeiro in August.

Two athletes attending today, Rachel Tallent and Brendon Reading, may not have the same height or muscles but something way better. They have already been given their boarding pass to Rio, after earning selection in the 20km and 50km walks respectively.

“It’s really starting to sink in now,” Tallent said. “Knowing that we are selected provides that little bit of motivation every day and we can’t wait to get to Rio.”

Reading, whose dad cycles alongside him while he trains, will have a big family contingent cheering him on in Brazil.

“My brother and family had booked long before I knew I was selected. They are very proud and super excited.”

Rachel and her famous medal winning brother Jared, are just one set of several siblings who will be part of the 2016 Australian Olympic Team. It is a ‘One Team’ united family that Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller wants to come out of these athlete sessions.

All the other athletes at ASPIRE are still battling to earn selection with the final Team of 450 athletes finalised by middle of July.

This was the seventh ASPIRE session for the summer with future sessions predominately involving athletes from athletics, swimming, combat sports and indoor volleyball.

Social media pitfalls, the Zika virus and how to get a good night sleep in Rio were all covered, as well as the latest vision from the spectacular Athletes’ Village and some recently completed venues.

Cook made sure there were plenty of laughs and bum slaps to go with the serious parts of being a member of an Australian Olympic Team.

The energy levels were there from athletes going to a fourth Games or athletes chasing their first Olympic tracksuit come August 2016.


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