Wednesday, 11 August 2021
Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games
What an amazing fortnight of sport we have just witnessed! Our congratulations and thanks go to all Australian athletes and officials for an outstanding effort at the 2020 Olympics.
Today I would like to acknowledge one of those athletes. When Ariarne Titmus swam her way to gold in Tokyo, she had the collective will of Australia behind her, but the loudest cheers were coming from Tasmania. More specifically, those excited cheers were coming from Launceston, where Ariarne was born and spent her formative swimming years at the Riverside and Launceston aquatic clubs. Students at her former school, St Patrick's College, were watching as she made her way through the heats and booked her finals berth. Teachers Tony Cullen and Katrina von Stieglitz were the St Patrick's swim team coach and manager when Ariarne was a student, and both knew then she was destined for big things.
Well-known and respected members of the Launceston community, Ariarne's parents, Steve and Robyn, made the decision in 2016 to relocate to Queensland with daughters Ariarne and Mia to advance Ariarne's career. Ariarne represented Australia at the 2017 world championships and broke the women's 400-metre freestyle world record at the 2018 world short course championships. She also claimed three gold medals at the Commonwealth Games. It's hard to believe that Tokyo was Ariarne's first Olympic Games. In spectacular fashion, she won gold medals in the 200- and 400-metre freestyle events, silver in the 800-metre freestyle and bronze in the four-by-200-metre freestyle relay, the first Tasmanian to win an individual Olympic gold medal and the first to win multiple gold medals at one Olympic Games. Now aged 20, Ariarne has more Olympic campaigns ahead, and she has inspired a new generation of Dolphins to follow her personal motto and be the best they can be.
On that note, all the best to Todd Hodgetts, Alexandra Viney and Deon Kenzie as they represent Australia in the Paralympics starting on 24 August.