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Sporting Schools School Yard to Sports Star: Kim Brennan

Olympic Gold Medallist rower Kim Brennan reminisces about her time playing sport at school, and gives her top tips to kids about playing sport.

Do you remember your first win when you played school sport and how did it feel?

It’s a funny one because I actually don’t remember so much the wins or the losses, I just remember the teams. I think that’s what sticks with you the most – it’s the friends that you make along the way and  that’s still the case. The biggest thing about winning a gold medal is not the medal itself – it’s the team you are a part of and the people you shared those memories with.

What’s your favourite memory of playing sport at school?

My absolute fondest memory of playing sport at school were the laughs – the fun that you have with your friends. I’m still great friends with the people I ran the cross country relay with in Grade 5 and we’ve stuck together ever since.  I think it’s really special how well sport can bring you together.

How old were you when you decided you wanted to be a professional sports player?

I had a moment at the 1992 Olympics watching the flame being lit when I thought that would be pretty cool to go to the Olympics. At that stage I didn’t know what sport. I didn’t have a goal setting progression of this is where I’m going to end up, but I knew I loved sport and I knew that the Olympics was incredibly special to me. I think probably a few years down the track when I started doing well at track and field I thought maybe this will happen to me.  I never would have thought it would be in rowing and I never thought that it would take so long to make it to the top but it was definitely worth it.

What are your top three tips for children about playing sport?

The first one is make sure you enjoy it. Sports about having fun.

The second thing is don’t judge success by how you conduct yourself when things are going well. It’s how you conduct yourself when things don’t go well. The people who end up successful are the ones who get back up when things go wrong. You learn so much more when you lose than when you win, get injured, have bad races or things don’t go right. That learning progression is so important.

The third thing is learning. It’s being really open to change. It’s listening to your coaches, parents and team mates and being really open to improve.  I’ve always thought that if you feel like a coach is picking on you that is the greatest honour you can possibly have because they care enough to give you feedback. That opportunity to make yourself better is just so special.