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The Tokyo 2020 Olympics concluded almost 3 weeks ago. With many of us missing our regular club sporting competitions it was nice to be able to watch our elite Australian athletes compete on the world stage. As these athletes return home to Australia and finish their 14-day quarantine, many have volunteered their time to talk to the younger generations about their Olympic experience.

On Thursday 26th August, Year 9 students welcomed dual Olympian Keesja Gofers to their virtual classroom. Keesja competed in water polo at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Keesja spent an hour talking with the girls, discussing her experience, goals, obstacles, challenges and setbacks that she has experienced throughout her career as a professional athlete.

Throughout her talk she focused on the importance of dreaming big and allowing yourself to fail in order to learn and succeed. Every failed attempt takes you one step closer to the final goal. In 2008 Keesja decided she wanted to be an Olympic water polo athlete. From this moment, she trained and worked hard to make it into the National team. Even once she achieved this goal, Keesja had many more obstacles she had to overcome, such as her coaches stating that she wasn’t a strong or fast enough swimmer and that she lacked confidence during games, she fought harder to overcome these challenges. Even when she was “Good enough” Keesja was informed that there “Just isn’t room for you in your playing position”.

She had the choice of giving up on her goal to attend the Olympics or she had to change positions and try to succeed in that new location. Not letting these setbacks get the best of her, she continued to push forward and train harder, and is now a dual Olympian. Her next goal is not just to compete at the 2024 Olympics but to receive that gold medal. Not silver or bronze, only gold, as we have to dream big to achieve big things.

When we watch elite athletes competing at the Olympics, we often forget to think about all the challenges, setbacks and hardships they have endured to get to where they are. Setbacks, failures and challenges are needed in life to ensure we continue to grow and challenge ourselves. A message which will hopefully remain with our Year 9 students as they continue remote learning.

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