23 July 2020
- Olympians and Paralympians open up about their mental health
- New research shows two thirds (66 per cent) of Australians think mental strength is more important than physical strength for Olympians and Paralympians
- Allianz partners with the Australian Olympic Committee and Paralympics Australia on a range of mental health initiatives
Tokyo 2020 may have been postponed, but the journey of Australia’s Olympians and Paralympians continues with Allianz Australia. As the Official Insurance Partner of the Australian Olympic and Paralympic Teams, Allianz is proud to announce the Australian Steelers, Cate Campbell, Madison de Rozario, Nic Beveridge and Owen Wright as its official ambassadors with 12 months to go until the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 20201.
With new research revealing over two thirds of Australians (67 per cent) believe Olympians and Paralympians should speak up about mental health, Allianz is proud to be working with these athletes who are speaking openly about their journey with mental health and how they have learned to reframe and conquer their fears and vulnerabilities, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The research, commissioned by Allianz, also found two thirds (66 per cent) of Australians think mental strength is more important than physical strength for Olympians and Paralympians.
After the postponement of Tokyo 2020 and with COVID-19 disrupting many athletes’ training routines, Allianz continued to work with and support its ambassadors during the restrictions. And as Australians change the way we look at the world post lockdown, Allianz also wants to change the way we celebrate our athletes’, by embracing their mental strength just as much as their physical strength.
Australians would be more likely to support Olympians and Paralympians if they heard how they have overcome the COVID-19 lockdown (41 per cent), their personal journey with mental health (37 per cent), and by getting to know the real them (46 per cent).
Olympian and Paralympian mental strength
Paralympian Madison de Rozario, Athletics, has been more proactive with her mental health in the last few months and believes she’ll come back stronger than ever.
Commenting on her experience, Madison said: “When I compete I often think, what if I let people down, what if it’s not enough, what if I don’t perform at my best. The bigger the stage I’m competing on, the louder these thoughts get. Having some extra time has been great for me, I’ve been working on stopping negative thoughts in their tracks and giving more airtime to the positive ones. By speaking up, I hope to show that even athletes are vulnerable; it’s ok to have fears, but we can’t let our fears stop us from progressing.”
Owen Wright, World #9 Australian surfer and Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Hopeful, has one of the sport’s most incredible comeback stories. In 2015, Owen suffered a serious head injury while surfing Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu. Since the accident, he’s had to rebuild his mental strength in order to get back out into the ocean and surf the big waves.
“Recovering from my accident gave me a new perspective on mental strength. Fear is always present, but for me it’s about embracing and acknowledging it, rather than wishing it away. If you listen to fear, it can be a good thing; it can teach you to be more patient and to see things in a new light. It’s been a journey; I didn’t gain this perspective overnight. From the trauma, I have way more respect for the mental strength side of my training. For me, mental strength means riding the waves of emotion and life like I ride the waves out in the ocean,” Owen said.
Commenting on the announcement of Allianz’s ambassadors, Nick Adams, Allianz Australia Chief Marketing Manager, said Australia’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes are great role models for all Australians and Allianz is proud to invest in partnerships that reflect inclusivity and spark inspiration.
“Allianz believes each of us has the capacity for endless achievement, and nothing should stand in the way of someone pushing the boundaries of what is possible. These athletes are not only leaders in their chosen sports, they inspire our nation with their unrelenting passion and commitment,” Nick said.
“After more than a decade of supporting the International Paralympic Committee and larger Paralympic Movement I’m delighted to continue our relationships with Madi, Nic and the Australian Steelers on their road to the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 and very happy to give a warm welcome Cate and Owen.
Allianz’s support doesn’t stop at insurance
As part of its partnership with the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and Paralympics Australia (PA), Allianz is supporting a range of mental health initiatives in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020, and beyond.
AOC’s Wellbeing Week and Wellness Engagement Series, presented by Allianz, will include mental health webinars for athletes and the broader AOC community. Scheduled to go live in September during R U OK? Day, the content will shed light on the importance of mental wellness. Allianz ambassadors will also feature in the webinar series to share their personal stories and anecdotes.
Allianz will also support PA’s new mentoring program. Its mission is to support potential and current Paralympians to set and achieve their goals, both in and out of sport, through mentoring, coaching and leadership training by Paralympic alumni.
Commenting on the new partnerships, Nick Adams said: “True support isn’t just being there for the highs, it’s to be there through the lows. Allianz is committed to providing unwavering support to its ambassadors every step of the way to Tokyo 2020. From the moment we welcomed them, to the moment the Games were postponed, Allianz has stayed by the side of its ambassadors and will continue to do so.”
To find out more about Allianz’s ambassadors, as well as its role as the Official Insurance Partner of the Australian Olympic and Paralympic Teams, please visit Allianz.com.au/Olympics.
1. The Games retain this name, even though they are postponed until 2021.
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Additional quotes from the athletes
Cate Campbell: “Preparing for an Olympics is all-consuming. It takes a lifetime of training, dedication and years of unwavering passion. With the announcement of the Olympics being postponed and simultaneous government restrictions, my life pivoted overnight. The adjustment to the ‘new normal’ took some time, however once I stopped fighting the circumstances outside of my control, I was able to refocus and look for things that were in my control.”
Nic Beveridge: “These times have provided me with an opportunity to question whether certain things still have a place in my life. I have reinvigorated my love for Triathlon by slowing down and focusing on the aspects of being a high performance athlete I enjoy the most – self-improvement and the art of development.”
“I’m lucky that I have people in my life (coaches, mentors and friends) who help me train my thought processes. We work on reframing circumstances in my own mind, and the connection between thoughts and feelings. Most thoughts can usually be attributed to either fear or love, so I like being able to acknowledge the thoughts that stem from a place of fear, and repurpose them to come from a place of love, pride or gratitude. I find I feel lighter for it, and live and train better.”
The Steelers, Ryley Batt, Shae Graham and Chris Bond on behalf of the team: “We have been focusing a lot recently on getting comfortable with being uncomfortable – this means stronger in the important moments, giving everything on the court physically and then trying to replicate that in the training environment. We’re also working on being vulnerable with each other and creating a safe space to speak up.”
See below our full athlete profiles
Madison de Rozario
The Australian Steelers