Super-charged ASPIRE inspires in Sydney

Published 4 April 2016 (AEDT)

TEAM: With Rio 2016 just over four months away, the largest Australian Olympic Team ASPIRE session held, ahead of the first South American Olympic Games, has informed and motivated over 160 athletes in Sydney.

The sessions have been touring the country in the months leading into the Games with selected athletes and Rio hopefuls getting the chance to hear inspirational accounts from Australian Olympic legends, learn about their responsibilities as Team members and find out how the logistics and venues in Rio de Janeiro are progressing.

Fresh off their selection to the Australian Olympic Team last night, the athletics team were well represented along with athletes from archery, canoe/kayak, fencing, football, gymnastics, modern pentathlon, rowing, sailing, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling.

One athletics star that knows just what it means to wear the green and gold on sport’s greatest stage was host Matt Shirvington.

“It was heartening for me to see how well the Australian Team is doing not only at the selection event but throughout the whole season,” the Sydney 2000 Olympian said, at AOC Partner Optus’s headquarters in Macquarie Park.

“Waking up to see the newspaper with athletics on the front page gave me goosebumps.

“To have 20 or so athletics athletes that will be first timers will be amazing in Rio.”

Highlighting the importance of the session, IOC Vice President and AOC President John Coates, AOC Vice President Helen Brownlee and Deputies of the Rio Team Chris Fydler and Danielle Woodward were among the dignitaries and sponsors present.

2016 Team Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller has recently returned from Rio and provided the athletes with an update on how the city is progressing.

“The locals are very passionate about the Olympic Games, the Village is fantastic and the venues now are pretty much done,” the Sydney 2000 modern pentathlete explained.

“The look and feel of the place is starting to make it feel like an Olympic city.”

Chiller has made it her priority to ensure that all of the 450 plus projected Australian Rio 2016 athletes feel united as 'One Team'.

"It's great to have our newly selected track and field athletes in the audience today but it's also brilliant to have so many sport all here together.

"We are one Australian Team no matter which sport you are from and that will hold us in good stead as we aim for a top five finish in Rio."

With a host of athletics stars still on a high from their selection, the session provided the athletes with much needed information that will help them prepare for the challenges of Rio.

"It provided a great insight into what we can expect in Rio and what will be expected of us in Rio," long jumper Brooke Stratton said.

"The session showed how special the opportunity is that we have and what an awesome experience we have ahead of us. It was definitely very inspiring."

As all the athletes did, Stratton also got the chance to get sized up for her Olympic uniform.

"It's pretty excting to be trying on some gear for the Opening Ceremony and for when we get over here. It makes it feel more real and it's gets you feeling a bit emotional when we are doing these things."

While the athletes will be focused on Rio 2016 they will join an Australian Olympic Team that has over 120 years of history.

“To think about the history that has come before is something that means so much," London 2012 gold medallist Murray Stewart said.

"It's great to know that such a wonderful movement is backed up by such an amazing history."

The final two ASPIRE sessions will wrap up the series in Canberra and Adelaide midway through April. 

Matt Bartolo

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