Olympians inspire at International Women's Day lunch

Published 7:05pm 6 March 2024

Olympians inspire at International Women's Day lunch
Words by Jodie Powell

The grit, determination and drive to succeed as an elite athlete are also useful attributes for growing a thriving business, according to a trio of Olympians speaking at this year’s Moreton Bay International Women’s Day luncheon.

Cathy Freeman, Susie O’Neill and Nicole Livingstone led a wide-ranging panel discussion in front of a sold-out event at the Eatons Hill Hotel supported by City of Moreton Bay and delivered by Moreton Bay Region Industry & Tourism.

With journalist Kim Skubris leading the conversation, they spoke about their Olympic experiences, competing at a “home” Games, the opportunities Brisbane 2032 would deliver and the legacy it would leave and offered advice for parents of young athletes who aspired to compete internationally.

Talent and resilience

Olympians inspire at International Women's Day lunch

Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism CEO Tash Wheeler said women made a tangible difference across the region.

“Our Zonta clubs, Quota Clubs, Meals on Wheels volunteers, Business Professional Women groups, our athletes like Teagan Micah, Kaylee McKeown and Lakeisha Patterson – all have exceptional talent and resilience,” Ms Wheeler says.

“Marlene Newcombe from Village Motors has worked with the Dolphins for years and was recently only the third woman in the club’s history to receive life membership.”

Welcoming the trio of quest speakers, Ms Wheeler said she recalled many moments watching all three excel in their fields.

“You are testament to the power and perseverance and limitless potential of women,” she said.

Unparalleled support

Olympians inspire at International Women's Day lunch

Mayor Peter Flannery said Moreton Bay hosted events where all voices were heard and individuals were reflected.

He said he had been very fortunate to have the support of the women in his life, tearing up as he singled out “my wife Annmarie and our youngest daughter Sophia”.

Mayor Flannery acknowledged the sacrifices they had made to allow him to lead the City of Moreton Bay, saying many other women did the same to support their partners’ dreams.

“Many contribute more than 30 house of unpaid work a week,” he says.

Race that stopped a nation

Olympians inspire at International Women's Day lunch

Ms Freeman told the audience her recollections of her awe-inspiring gold medal 400m race at the Sydney 2000 Olympics had become clearer as time passed.

“You can’t really escape from the experience – neither do I want to,” she said.

“I think Olympic spirit becomes part of your DNA, it’s very much a big part of who we are.”

Ms O’Neill said that as a kid she really wanted to go to the Olympics and win a gold medal and doing both was “like a dream come true”.

Returning to the world stage in Japan at the World Aquatics Masters Championships last year to mark her 50th birthday yielded a gold medal and a world record for the women’s 50-54 individual 50m butterfly, but she said it was an entirely different experience.

“I didn’t have the routine we had when we were racing to calm my nerves,” Ms O’Neill says.

Asked about useful advice she’s received over the years, she doesn’t hesitate.

“Most successful people are the people who give up last.

“I found swimming hard, but I found life outside the pool a lot harder.”

Great legacy

Olympians inspire at International Women's Day lunch

Ms Livingstone says the 2032 Olympics will deliver a swag of opportunities for South East Queensland, including the City of Moreton Bay.

“It’s a funny one. It’s going to be my 11th Summer Olympics I’ve been involved with and every Games there’s conjecture about whether it will be ready.

“This is our (Australia’s) third Olympics we’ve hosted and we’re bloody good at it – and Queenslanders know how to win.

“There will be a great legacy from the Olympics and Paralympics – what does that legacy mean for Moreton Bay (and) are there are careers that can come of it?

“I love what you’re doing for the Brisbane Lions and UniSC is doing a great job (attracting local students) and many of them could be doing sports science or administration (when the Games are held).”

See the gallery

Ms Freeman says the Games are not simply about attracting money to the region.

“Obviously with Brisbane 2032 coming, everybody’s getting a bit of Olympic fever and that’s exciting

“It’s also the lasting impact it has on our communities – that’s where the magic is.”

The International Women's Day - Empowering Women in Business is proudly supported by City of Moreton Bay and delivered by Moreton Bay Region Industry & Tourism and supported by strategic sponsors Ausbuild, Australian Trade College North Brisbane, Belgravia Leisure, Crew Legal, University of the Sunshine Coast, Matchsticks Marketing Agency, Pipeline Supplies and Hire, The Sebel Brisbane Margate Beach, Sesame Lane, Village Motors, Bishopp Outdoor Advertising, The Redcliffe Peninsula, Innovate Moreton Bay.

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