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Spotlight on: Meriden’s Olympus Program

Evelyn Haseldine, Sailing

For emerging athletes who dream of performing at an elite level, Meriden’s Olympus program is an essential component of their journey to success. The initiative allows young sportswomen to fit intensive training into their academic routines so they can fulfil their potential on every front.

This term, the program has implemented a new “buddy system”, which builds on the girls’ existing access to specialist teachers and coaching professionals and places them into pairs for peer-to-peer support.

Olympus Coordinator, Mr Ryan Richards, said the initiative is aimed at addressing the mental and emotional health of the young sportswomen.

“The Olympus program is constantly evolving to incorporate industry best practices and respond to the needs of participants,” he said.

“Pursuing sport at an elite level can get lonely; so much time is spent training and competing where other young people might be with their families or friends. Helping the girls connect with others who face the same kinds of challenges can help to alleviate some of the stress and loneliness they may feel.”

“Meriden’s Olympus buddy system is unique in that girls pursuing different sports are paired. We hope the relationships they build help them to see that the pressures they face aren’t exclusive to one sport. We have already seen girls workshop practical solutions to their challenges with the help of their ‘buddies’. These solutions have been enriched by the different life and sporting experience each girl brings to the relationship,” Mr Richards said.

Year 11 student, Australian Youth Olympics competitor and Olympus Captain, Evelyn Haseldine, said she thinks the initiative will be helpful to the young athletes.

“We all need someone to chat to about what is happening in our sport, whether we are coping with schoolwork and how we are feeling, in general,” she said.

“These friendships can provide us with some important tools we need when juggling the pressures of school and sport.”

The well-established Olympus Program has supported a number of participants as they competed in their chosen sports at the highest levels. Some examples include Grace Kim, Youth Olympics Gold Medallist and current Australian Amateur Golfer; Violet Apisah, Junior Australian Open, Junior Wimbledon and Junior US Open representative; and Enid Sun and Olivia Tauro, who represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Rhythmic Gymnastics and Athletics, respectively.

Young sportswomen who take part in the Olympus Program have access to different levels of academic and sporting support, depending on their training needs. Girls attend regular workshops on sleep, nutrition, injury prevention, time management and resilience and can participate in the “Finding Time” elective, which allows them time during school hours to work on core subjects under the supervision of specialist teachers, in order to “free up” time for training.

The program also incorporates a wellness survey which is completed by elite program participants at regular intervals throughout the school term.

“The specially-designed Athlete Monitoring System asks the girls about their fatigue levels throughout the season, any injuries they acquire and how they are coping with their school work,” Mr Richards said.

“This information is recorded and tracked for each student so Olympus staff can help them manage any difficulties, liaise with coaches and teachers as required and ensure any issues affecting the girls improve over time.”

The Olympus Program incorporates Olympus Futures, which helps student-athletes navigate their post-school options and sporting journeys. Each year, an average of four Meriden students are offered scholarships at leading international universities through the program, in comparison to one student every four years at Australian high schools overall. The Olympus Futures program’s core principle is to support its participants in securing scholarships at higher education institutions that align with the student’s academic standard, tertiary interests and sporting achievement level.

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