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Olympus girls relish an expected year of growth

Tara Kalivitis, Samantha Lavers and Sarah Cull

Elite athletes the world over have been frustrated at the disruption wrought on their competitions by the coronavirus pandemic. But 2020 has brought unexpected blessings to Meriden’s Olympus Program students, for whom the opportunity to take stock of their sporting journeys has allowed them to grow.

Sarah Cull, a figure skater currently ranked fourteenth in Australia at the Junior level, said the easing pace of 2020 has been an unexpected boon.

“While the cancellation of the 2020 competition season was disappointing, I’ve used the time I would normally have spent travelling and competing to train differently, with more focus on learning new skills on the ice, in addition to incorporating new mental strength activities introduced to me by Olympus Program coaches,” she said.

“In 2021, I want to qualify for Senior level, which means I need to showcase the most challenging elements of skating, including triple jumps and spins, tied together with complex choreography. I hope that the extra time I’ve spent training this year will pay off in helping me reach my next goal.”

Also training hard is basketballer Tara Kalivitis, who plays on the semi-professional Division 1 Women’s team, the Bankstown Bruins, in the Waratah League. Also on the squad is Australian Olympian and WNBL player, Alicia Poto.

“Getting selected to the semi-elite team has been the highlight of my year,” Tara said.

“Spending time training with amazing, experienced players like Alicia Poto has been so beneficial to my game and along with the support offered by the Olympus Program, is helping me grow into the best athlete I can be.”

In 2020, the Olympus Program has continued to offer the School’s elite athletes support and mentorship which allows them to balance their academic and sporting goals. Girls have welcomed a number of accomplished guest speakers throughout the year, including Karen Haddad, a sport psychologist who ran a series of specialised workshops.

“Karen’s advice on dealing with confronting conversations, which occur in sport and in other areas of life, has been really helpful to me,” Tara said.

Samantha Lavers, Australian Championship tennis player and 2020 Tildesley Doubles Champion, said the Olympus Program has been a significant force in helping her prepare for the resumption of competition games in 2021.

“I’m so looking forward to next season and my goal is to compete in tournaments across Australia,” she said.

“The Olympus Program is important to me because it brings together a community of young athletes who understand what it’s like to balance sport and school, who know how tough training can be. I feel a strong sense of support in the program, not just from the Olympus staff and special guests, but from my peers, too.”

Meriden wishes all its Olympus athletes the best as they prepare to meet their goals in 2021 and congratulates the girls on their continued focus, hard work and optimism throughout the year.

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