Skip to main content
° on Saturday in Mosman

17 Amazing Locals To Watch Out For In The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games

The Tokyo Olympic Games begin on Friday July 23. Already postponed once due to Covid, they will proceed in controversial circumstances, with many unsure about the wisdom of the International Olympic Committee in proceeding during a global pandemic. Controversy aside, we hope that watching our Australian athletes participate to the best of their ability on the world stage will bring us all some much-needed joy during lockdown. We’ve done a round up of North Shore and Northern Beaches locals who have been selected for our Olympic and Paralympic teams – and there are plenty of them! Congratulations to all and we wish you the very best of luck.

Matilda Kearns, Water Polo

Image: NSW Institute of Sport

Age: 21
Events: Women’s Water Polo
Olympic debut

Unlike many of her fellow players, it was not love at first sight – or touch – for Queenwood alumni Matilda ‘Tilly’ Kearns, when as a 13-year-old she jumped into the deep end of the Water Polo pool.

“At first I didn’t really like it because I didn’t really get it. I did it for four weeks and it was barely Water Polo, it was like bull-rush with a ball,” she said of her first foray in the sport.

“I stopped playing it but then came back the next season, and because I was bigger than everyone I was better at it and started to like it from there,” said Tilly, of her 176cm frame.

Tilly joined the Sydney Northern Beaches Breakers (SNBB) club and came through the age groups and as soon as she made her first NSW state team, she was determined for Olympic glory.

A ‘Water Polo high-performance camp in July 2018 fuelled that fire a little more. “I loved the camp, it just sparked my love for the sport again. It was really tactical, it was about learning the plays and combinations,” Tilly said.

Now with the Sydney University Lions, with several Stingers as teammates, Tilly is about to realise her Olympic dream after competing at the 2016, 2017 and 2018 FINA World Junior Championships.

She scored 29 goals in her freshman year in 2019 with the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans but didn’t return for the 2020 season (COVID-19) or 2021 to concentrate on Tokyo preparations. She hopes to complete her USC studies in due course.

Tilly is one of four children to mum Julie and Wallabies legend Phil Kearns, who won two World Cups for Australia in rugby union (1991, 1999), and who actually played some Water Polo in his youth.

Source: https://www.olympics.com.au/olympians/matilda-kearns/

Michelle Cox, Softball

Image: Michelle Cox Wikipedia

Age: 30
Events: Softball – Women
Olympic debut

Outfielder Michelle Cox will make her first Olympic berth when softball returns to the schedule at the world’s biggest sporting stage at Tokyo.

Born in Sydney and raised in Belrose, Cox graduated from Roseville College in 2009.  Getting into the sport through her older brother who played baseball at seven-years-old, Michelle was then introduced to softball at school, making the switch when she was 12. She first joined the Davidson Club, but currently trains at the Manly Warringah Softball Association.

At 18-years-old, Cox was named to the Australian team, making her maiden appearance in competition against New Zealand. Upon her debut, she made three hits, including a home run. Later that year, she accepted a softball scholarship with the Australian Institute of Sport.

Michelle was a member of the bronze medal winning Australian team who competed at the 2012 World Championships.

Cox played college softball at San Jose State University in California, graduating with a degree in accounting in 2015. She had a batting average of .366 in her freshman year, the best on the team. She earned Academic All-WAC and first-team All-WAC honours.

Her hitting improved throughout her college career, ending her senior year with a batting average of .419. It was also in her senior year that Michelle had injured her hip running to catch a hit, colliding with and breaking the foul fence. She finished the season off before undergoing corrective surgery and was sidelined from competition for six months.

Michelle is a current member of the Aussie Peppers, a softball team based in Minnesota that plays in the National Pro Fastpitch League, under the tutelage of Coach Laing Harrow. Number 47 on the team, Cox has played as an outfielder since 2018.

Source: https://www.olympics.com.au/olympians/michelle-cox/

Matthew Levy, Paralympic Swimming

Image: Paralympic.org.au

Age: 34
Events: 100m breaststroke, 100m freestyle, 200m individual medley, 400m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle, 4x100m medley
Olympic History: Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016

Northbridge resident Matt is an Olympic veteran appearing at his fifth consecutive Games!

Born 15 weeks prematurely, with cerebral palsy and a vision impairment, Matthew has survived 50-plus operations – brain, heart, lungs, ears … you name it – to become the international swim star he is today.

As is the case for the vast majority of Paralympic swimmers, Matthew found the pool as part of his rehabilitation – to keep his body moving. But it was in 2000, when he realised he could be competitive, that the next 20 years of his life began to take shape.

Matthew made his Paralympic debut in 2004 and won his first medal – gold in the men’s 4x100m medley 34 Points – in 2008. A five-strong haul at the 2010 International Paralympic Committee Swimming World Championships preceded his most successful Games campaign to date, with Matthew returning home from England’s London Aquatics Centre in 2012 with one gold, one silver and three bronze medals, and in 2016, he won a bronze medal in the men’s 200m individual medley SM7.

As the reigning Commonwealth Games champion in the men’s 50m freestyle S7, and current S7 world record holder in the men’s 200m freestyle, Matthew is as competitive as he has ever been. While he will spend the next couple of months finalising his preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, he is confident there are a few years – and Games – left in him yet before he hangs up the towel.

Outside the pool, Matthew is a member of Paralympics Australia’s Mob Leadership Team, and World Para-swimming‘s and Commonwealth Games Australia’s Athlete Advisory Groups.

Source: https://www.paralympic.org.au/athlete/matt-levy/

Joanne Brigden-Jones, Sprint Kayak

Image: jobrigdenjones.com.au

Age: 33
Events: Women’s Canoe Sprint K-4 500m
Olympic History: London 2012

Home Club: Sydney Northern Beaches Kayak Club

Growing up in Mona Vale on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Jo Brigden-Jones divided her free time between athletics, netball, nippers and swimming. She enjoyed sport because it allowed her to be with her friends and have fun outdoors.

Brigden-Jones began taking a serious interest in sport when the Northern Beaches Kayak Club selected the 13-year-old for their talent identification program. She began paddling four times a week and would challenge herself to get better each day.

Brigden-Jones made steady progress with the paddle, but it took two years of serious training and persistence before she found her rhythm. During this time, she represented Australia at the Junior World Championships and Australian Youth Olympic Festival where she won five medals.

2008 was a breakthrough year as Brigden-Jones graduated to senior competition. Her form steadily improved and in 2010 she won her first individual world cup medal. Brigden-Jones was the top ranked female paddler and was looking strong ahead of the World Championships before a shoulder injury forced her withdrawal from the competition.

An injury-free Brigden-Jones returned to competition in 2011 and won her first world championships medal, a bronze in the K2 200 metres (with Hannah Davis). The pair also paddled in the K4 500m and secured Australia quota positions for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Brigden-Jones was subsequently selected to her first Australian Olympic Team.

At London, Brigden-Jones joined forces with Hannah Davis, Lyndsie Fogarty and Rachel Lovell in the K4 500. The crew finished sixth in their heat and semi-final.

Like many of her competitors, Brigden-Jones complements flat water training with surf lifesaving. At the 2013 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships she experienced another injury set-back when she dislocated her shoulder for a second time.

Brigden-Jones missed selection to the Olympic Games in Rio and took a break from the sport in 2016. During this time she fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a paramedic with NSW Ambulance. Drawn back to paddling in 2017, Brigden-Jones could not ignore the desire to represent Australia at another Olympics and she resumed racing with a view to competing at Tokyo 2020.

Eight years after she made her Olympic debut, Brigden-Jones secured selection to her second Australian Olympic Team after she finished second behind Alyce Wood in the K1 500 at the 2020 Australian Championships. It was a successful regatta for Brigden-Jones who also won the women’s K1 and K2 200 and finished second in the women’s K2 500.

Source: https://www.olympics.com.au/olympians/joanne-brigden-jones/

Josh Green, Basketball

Image: Bleacher Report

Age: 20
Events: Mens Basketball
Olympic Debut

Green was born in Sydney to Australian mother Cahla and American-born father Delmas. His parents met while both were playing semi-professional basketball in Australia. The couple decided to raise a family in the north-west Sydney suburb of Castle Hill where Josh began playing basketball at the age of five when his mother started coaching him. Along with playing local basketball for the Hills Hornets as a child, Green tried an array of sports as a junior and excelled in Australian rules football, athletics, basketball, rugby, soccer and swimming. By the age of 10, he had been selected to represent NSW in nine separate sports. (Source: Wikipedia)

Green relocated with his family to Phoenix, Arizona, where the now 20-year-old’s talents on the hardwood were honed against the best concentration of junior competition on the globe.

Once in Arizona, Green enrolled at Mountain Ridge High School and quickly began to impress scouts and recruiters. In 2017, Green transferred to IMG Academy in Florida, a boarding school known for its development of high school basketball prospects.

Green scored 19 points in his last high school game to lead IMG to victory in the national championship final over La Lumiere, and was subsequently awarded the game’s Most Valuable Player award.

After receiving offers to play collegiately for North Carolina, Villanova, Kansas and the University of Southern California, Green chose to commit to the University of Arizona. A standout year for the Wildcats positioned the Sydney native to forego his college eligibility and enter the 2020 NBA Draft, where he was selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the 18th pick of the first round.

Now with a season of NBA basketball under his belt, and a debut Olympic campaign on the horizon, Green looks primed to elevate the ascension of his career and Australian legacy in Tokyo.

Source: https://www.olympics.com.au/olympians/joshua-green/

Tiffany Thomas Kane OAM, Paralympic Swimming

Age: 20
Events: 50m butterfly, 50m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 100m breaststroke, 100m freestyle, 200m individual medley, 4 x 50m freestyle
Olympics history: Rio 2016 (one gold medal, three bronze medals)

Willoughby’s Tiffany Thomas Kane was just shy of 14 when she won a gold medal on debut at the 2015 International Paralympic Committee Para-swimming World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. Not only that, but she did it in world record time, finishing nearly two seconds ahead of her nearest (and far more experienced) rival, Charlotte Henshaw (GBR).

Having also won a silver medal in the women’s 50m butterfly S6 and bronze in the women’s 50m freestyle S6 and women’s 100m freestyle S6, it came as no surprise then, when Tiffany achieved selection to her first Australian Paralympic Team for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

A former Ravenswood student, Tiffany was one of the youngest members of the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team, but she made a big, big splash. She won a gold medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke SB6 and a trio of bronze medals in the women’s 50m butterfly S6, women’s 50m freestyle S6 and women’s 200m individual medley SM6. It was an incredible opening Games campaign and one which earned Tiffany a place among the finalists for Rookie of the Year at Paralympics Australia’s 2016 Australian Paralympic Awards.

Since being reclassified as an S7 athlete in 2017, it has never been more difficult for Tiffany to do what she loves and compete on the world stage. Ever the champion, however, she won the Australian team’s first gold medal of the 2019 World Para-swimming Championships, and is on track to represent her country once again at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Source: https://www.paralympic.org.au/athlete/tiffany-thomas-kane/

Michelle Bromley, Table Tennis

Image: Michelle Bromley Instagram

Age: 33
Events: Table Tennis
Club: Macquarie Park
Olympic debut

Michelle Bromley was always destined to become a table tennis player with her father and mother falling in love at a tennis table club and her grandparents competing at a national level into their 80’s.

It became a family affair, with Bromley’s older brothers also taking to the paddle and Bromley following in their footsteps.

Growing up in the small NSW country town of Gulgong, when she was six Bromley would annoy her mother by hitting the ball against the kitchen wall at home for hours. By the time she was seven, she won her first trophy at the State Primary School Championships.

Seeing her developing talent, Bromley’s mum nurtured her early table tennis development, but by the age of 10, her dad knew she had something special so he took over the reins becoming her coach and warm-up partner.

Michelle recalls training each night with her dad in the family shed as one of her fondest memories and strongest formative moments. She won her first national title at 13 and that year represented Australia internationally.

After several attempts, two decades later, Bromley was selected for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games but sadly, her dad, coach and hero was unable to see her achieve this great feat, passing away from cancer in 2012.

“My dad is my hero, he was always my biggest fan and believed I could achieve my dreams,” Bromley said.

The Blacktown NSW local says her dad instilled in her the determination, strength and attitude that has seen her qualify for her first Olympic Games, when she makes her debut at Tokyo 2020.

The 32-year-old won eight out of nine matches at the Australian Qualification Tournament for the 2020 Olympic Games to secure her spot at Tokyo. Fans and spectators erupted in applause and cheered for the small-town girl, who after three attempts at Olympic qualification, was finally going to make her Olympic debut.

Nicholas Hough, 110m Hurdles

Image: Sydney Morning Herald

Age: 27
Events: Mens Athletics – Mens 110m hurdles
Olympic debut

A talented junior, Nick Hough emerged in Little Athletics and GPS school athletics competition for The Kings School. He was an all-rounder, competing in sprints, hurdles, jumps and the shot put.

He made his international debut aged 16, at the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games, winning gold in the 110m hurdles. In 2012, he competed at the IAAF World Junior Championships winning silver in the 110m hurdles. In 2013, while negotiating the graduation to the senior hurdle height, he ran his lifetime bests in the sprints (10.39/20.66), securing semi-final places at the World University Games. He then received a call-up to run on the national 4x100m relay at the World Championships.

In 2014, he made significant progress in his preferred event, the 110m hurdles. Starting the season with a best of 13.98, he eventually took this to 13.57 for fourth in the final at the Commonwealth Games.  In 2015 he won the national title in a stunning 13.42 making him number two Australian all-time and was the fastest by an Australian for over 18 years.

At the 2015 World Championships, he was run out in the heats and injury in 2016 made it difficult to qualify for Rio. In 2017 in Europe, he qualified for the London World Championships and was fifth in his heat. Two weeks later he competed at his third World University Games, where he placed sixth in the final.

In 2018 he was untroubled in winning his fourth national 110m hurdles title and in March competed at the IAAF World indoors in Birmingham and progressed to the semi-final just missing the national record running 7.76 in his heat. He was terrific at the Commonwealth Games claiming bronze in a PB 13.38. It was the fastest time by an Australian at the Commonwealth Games and first medal in the event for 32 years.

Hough is now set to compete at his debut Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Source: https://www.olympics.com.au/olympians/nicholas-hough/

Ellen Roberts, Softball

Image: softball.org.au

Age: 29
Events: Softball – Women
Oympic debut
Home club: Kissing Point, South Turramurra

Ellen Roberts took to softball as a five-year-old and quickly decided to invest much of her time into the game, quickly becoming a skilled young athlete.

The Loreto Normanhurst alumni’s first appearance at a State Championships was in 2001 with the U10s at Blacktown Olympic Park, just one year after the diamond was used to host the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Roberts’ lists this ground as one she enjoys playing on the most. In 2008, Roberts was selected to her first NSW side, and has since become a permanent fixture in the setup and has won 10 national championship titles.

After continuing to develop her talent throughout the youth ranks, Roberts travelled overseas once she finished her secondary education to play collegiately for the University of Memphis Softball team.

Whilst in America, Roberts performed admirably as a student-athlete, with the now 29-year-old earning a 3.0+ Grade Point Average in her four years of study. Roberts also broke 25 school records in her college stint.

As a member of the Australian Spirit national team, Roberts has enjoyed opportunities to travel across the globe for her softball career. In Europe, Roberts especially relishes the chance to play in Italy or the Netherlands.

Now in preparations for Tokyo, Roberts looks forward to the chance to be amongst the world’s best whilst all converged in one city. Despite the pomp of Olympic competition, Roberts pledges to treat every competitor equally while working her hardest and giving her best to optimise the success of the Spirit’s Tokyo 2020 campaign.

Edwina Tops-Alexander, Equestrian

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images via Olympics.com.au

Age: 47
Events: Equestrian – Jumping Individual & Jumping Team
Olympics History: Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016
Horse’s Name:  Identity Viteroel

Edwina Tops-Alexander is known as one of Australia’s leading showjumpers and one of the highest ranked female riders in the world. Her journey into the equestrian world was sparked by her neighbours, they owned a barn and would ride their horses on the weekend. As a result this caught Edwina’s interest and by eight-years-old she was riding in her local Pony Club.

Growing up in the North Shore in Sydney, Edwina attended Pymble Ladies College which instilled a solid education for her. However, her family always supported and believed in her riding and gave her every opportunity to further her career.

Once her competition career had started, it was clear that Edwina was destined for great things from her first forays in the sport. Her young career saw her win the coveted Australian Young Rider Championship in 1995.

In 1998, only three years after winning the highest honours available to a young Australian rider, Edwina decided to move halfway around the world to Europe. She began working and competing for the Belgian rider Ludo Phillippaerts. After several years of working with Ludo Phillippaerts, and competing against world-class riders, she decided to branch out and work on her own.

In 2006, Tops-Alexander was the first Australian to qualify for the final of the World Equestrian Games. She came 4th overall, and along the way won the semifinal – which was impressive enough in itself. Tops-Alexander also won the overall ranking at both the 2011 and 2012 Global Champions Tour (LGCT).

Tops-Alexander has represented Australia in the Olympics on three occasions, in Beijing in 2008, London in 2012, and Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and she has accumulated two top ten placings from her Olympic appearances. Another remarkable achievement held by Tops-Alexander was becoming the first rider to win over €1 million in prize money on the LGCT circuit, and in 2018 she won the first-ever Super Grand Prix worth over €2 million in prize money.

Source: https://www.olympics.com.au/olympians/edwina-tops-alexander/

Amy Ridley, Paralympic Goalball

Image: Amy Ridley Facebook page

Age: 19
Events: Goalball
Olympic debut

West Pymble local and Turramurra High School student Amy Ridley fell in love in 2017. That was the year she participated in the Goalball 4 Schools program in NSW and knew it was the sport for her.

It’s been a quick rise since then. Ridley represented her state as a junior at the Australian Goalball Championships and the Pacific School Games and was a member of the Australian Team that won the silver medal at the Youth World Championships in 2019. Now, as one of the rookie selections in the Team for Tokyo 2020, Ridley has the chance to cement a place in the Belles set-up for some time to come.

When she’s not on the court, Ridley is busily studying as a full-time student, studying law and business, and working casually as an academic tutor. Ridley loves music, singing, her family, alpacas, Dory – and, as you may be able to tell, having a laugh.

Genevieve Horton, Rowing

Image: Rowing Australia

Age: 26
Events: Women’s Rowing Double Sculls (2x)
Olympic History: Rio 2016

Former Pymble Public School local Genevieve Horton competed at her first Olympic Games at Rio, partnering with Sally Kehoe in the Women’s Double Sculls as the youngest member of the Australian rowing section at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

After a 2nd place finish in their heat, Horton and Kehoe advanced to the semi-finals, where the Aussies were drawn in a tough race, taking on reigning Olympic Champions Great Britain as well as Poland, who had won World Cups 1 and 3 this season. The duo was quick out the start and sat comfortably in third throughout the first half of the race, led by the Poles and the British.

As the crew approached the 1500 metre mark, the French began to make their move to pass the Australians. With other crews out in front, the battle came down to the Australians and the French as to who would qualify for the A-Final, with the French pipping the Australians to the post to take the place in the A-Final. Kehoe and Horton finished their 2016 Olympic campaign with a third-place finish in the B-Final.

A Sydney-local, Horton made her international debut for Australia in 2013.

The Sydney University Boat Club athlete won gold in Australia’s Senior Women’s Eight at the 2013 World Rowing Cup in Sydney before going on to become the Junior World Champion alongside Jessie Allen in the Junior Women’s Pairs event later that year.

In 2014, Horton and Allen once again paired up and this time won a bronze medal at the 2014 U23 World Rowing Championships. In 2015, Horton made her first senior crew at a World Rowing Championships, competing in the Women’s Pair, where she finished 13th overall.

Post-event Horton re-evaluated her rowing options and returned to sculling in a bid to secure a place in the Olympic team and after some strong performances at selection trials was selected to compete alongside Kehoe in 2016.

A return to Olympic competition promises to ensure another strong outcome for Genevieve Horton.

Once returning to Australia, Horton transitioned to the Women’s Quadruple Sculls where she featured in the 2017 World Rowing Cups 2 and 3, as well as the World Championships. The Sydney native collected two silvers and one bronze in the competitions, and became a regular fixture in the Quadruple Sculls crew.

Now part of a highly aspiring Women’s Sweep Squad, Horton is tasked with emerging as a key, experienced leader for the crew. And with Tokyo in clear sight, Horton will, this time, be eyeing a fruitful Olympic campaign.

Source: https://www.olympics.com.au/olympians/genevieve-horton/

Marina Carrier, Modern Pentathlon

Image: Olympics.com.au

Age: 24
Events: Modern pentathlon
Olympics debut

Marina Carrier’s introduction to Modern Pentathlon was a fateful one, learning about the sport as a 13-year-old from her teacher but it sparked an interest that took her to the Youth Olympic Games and now, Tokyo 2020.

Growing up playing soccer, tennis, sailing and skiing it came as no surprise that when Modern Pentathlon appeared on Carrier’s radar, she thought it sounded “so cool.”

The youngster was determined to give it a go, picking up five disciplines that she had never competed in and “absolutely loved it,” but it wasn’t until some encouragement from London 2012 Olympian Edward Fernon that Carrier decided to pursue the sport to an Olympic level.

With less than one year of elite competition under her belt, Carrier qualified for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) when she was 17, as Australia’s first-ever female (YOG) modern pentathlete.

It was the first time the teenager had represented her country and she finished in 23rd place. The following year, Carrier was the second-ranked Oceania athlete behind Rio Olympic Champion, Chloe Esposito.

Although Carrier missed out on Rio 2016 Olympic qualification, the then 19-year-old was making waves, becoming the seventh-ranked junior in the world and Australian Champion by 2017, her first international season.

Carrier was named Australian Champion again in 2018 and as she started contesting senior events, began to feature on the podium.

While continuing her Bachelor of Medical Science at Sydney University, she made two senior World Cup finals and won bronze at the Polish Open in 2018 and 2019, beating World No.2.

Carrier then went on to finish second at the 2020 Oceania Championships and was selected to compete at her first Olympic Games.

Liz Clay, 100m Hurdles

Image: Liz Clay Facebook page

Age: 26
Events: Athletics – 100m hurdles
Olympics debut

A keen dancer when she was very young, Loreto Normanhurst alumni Liz Clay would go to athletics to watch her younger brother Harry compete. She got bored just watching him from the stands and decided to jump the fence and start her sporting journey at Hornsby Little Athletics in the under-10s. Over the next decade, her career evolved primarily as a hurdler, but constant injuries hampered her career.

Clay was selected for her junior international debut at the 2014 World Juniors in the 100m hurdles, but had to withdraw from the team when she broke her navicular bone weeks before the team departed.

After completing an exercise and sports science degree in Sydney, she relocated to the Gold Coast for coaching.

Clay had been making modest improvements in her hurdle times but was still plagued by injuries every year. It was a tough time for Clay, she felt all her competitors and teammates were progressing and achieving the things she wanted to and knew she could achieve.

During these years she found the mental side of competing very difficult as she never knew what the outcome was going to be or if her injuries would flare up which caused her a lot of stress.

Clay recalled competing during her first season without injury. She said it felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

Supporting her on her journey since arriving on the Gold Coast was leading Australian hurdles coach, Sharon Hannan, who had guided Sally Pearson to Olympic gold in 2012. Another influence was a boss of Clay’s, named Dimitri, a former professional tennis player.

He provided much-needed counsel. Clay described him as someone who gave her, ‘hard to swallow advice’, that she didn’t want to hear, but needed to. She says she is very grateful to him now.

Her start to the 2018/19 summer was promising, running a 100m personal best and two good hurdle times of 13.39 wind-assisted and 13.43 into a strong 1.9m/s wind, but days before the national championships she fractured her fibula in training.

So determined, she was not deterred, and embarked on a massive winter of training. Finally, in the 2019/20 summer the breakthrough happened. She ran a substantial 100m personal best, then in her pet event, the 100m hurdles she broke her now three-year-old hurdles best running 13.26, but that was just a hint of what was to come.

Clay went on to run a stunning 12.94 in Melbourne, to become the fourth-fastest in Australian history.

She just continued that progression in the summer of 2020/21, setting two PB’s of 12.84, then 12.72, both Olympic qualifiers, as she became the second fastest in Australian history.

Source: https://www.olympics.com.au/olympians/liz-clay/

Nicholas and Alexander Purnell, Rowing

The Purnell brothers with their parents Rod and Bronwyn Image: Rowing Australia

Nicholas Purnell
Age: 31
Events: Men’s Rowing Eight (8+)
Olympic History: London 2012

Alexander Purnell
Age: 26
Events: Men’s Rowing Four (4-)
Olympic debut
Junior Club: Sydney Church of England Grammar School (North Sydney, NSW)

In a family affair, Nick and Alexander Purnell become the first brothers on the Australian Olympic rowing team since the Stewart twins in 2004. Coincidentally, the Stewart twins were also North Shore residents. Born in St Leonards and attending Pymble Public School in their youth

Nicholas Purnell started rowing in high school and made his first national team in 2009, the same year he won gold in the quad sculls at the 2009 Australian Youth Olympic Festival. One year later, the Sydney-sider competed in his first World Championships, winning bronze as part of the Men’s Eight. He also picked up two World Cup medals in 2010, winning silver with the eight and gold with the four.

In 2011 he rowed in the men’s four at the World Championships, winning bronze, before returning to compete in the men’s eight at the London 2012 Games. The Australian’s claimed second in their heat before going on to earn themselves a spot in the 2012 Olympic final with a fourth-place finish in the repechage. The crew went on to finish sixth in a strong field, 3.12 seconds behind gold medallists Germany.

After an almost ten-year absence between Olympic appearances, Purnell looks primed to return to Men’s Eights action in Tokyo.

Source: https://www.olympics.com.au/olympians/nicholas-purnell/

After an impressive junior career, Alexander Purnell is set to ascend to the rowing arena’s highest stage in Tokyo.

The 26-year-old first earned selection in the Australian youth ranks in 2013, with strong performances earning Purnell subsequent appearances in 2014 and in the U23 World Championships, where he earned bronze in the latter Quadruple Sculls event.

Purnell received his first taste of senior competition in 2017 with selection in the Australian Rowing Team’s World Cup and World Championships sides.

The following year, Purnell was awarded a place in the Men’s Quadruple Sculls for the 2018 World Championships, where in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the Sydney product helped his crew secure silver in a hardfought race.

With his older brother Nicholas, Purnell has continued preparations for Tokyo at the Reinhold Batschi National Training Centre, where under Ian Wright, Mark Prater and Andrew Randell, has been subjected to the top competitive environment in the nation ahead of a prospective Olympics debut.

Source: https://www.olympics.com.au/olympians/alexander-purnell/

Tahli Moore, Softball

Image: OIympics.com.au

Age: 28
Events: Softball – Women
Olympic debut

Receiving a US scholarship, competing in a junior world cup and travelling the world to hone her craft, Moore’s dream of playing for Australia was well on track. That was until her world was turned upside down by a dangerous blood clot.

Now, the tenacious athlete opens up about her experience, as she sets her sights on Tokyo 2021.

“My mum and sister both played softball so I literally grew up playing in a shopping trolley around the diamond and watching them,” the Turramurra local said.

When she turned six, her mum finally signed her up and the determined youngster took to the sport like a duck to water. It was quickly evident that softball would become more than just a hobby for Moore, who made both the Under 19’s Australian Team and the junior British National Team as a teenager.

“I made the U19’s Aussie Team in 2013, but just missed the cut for Canada Worlds which was devastating, but I found out that because my dad was British, I could also try out for the British Team.”

Moore made the junior British Team and was able to get a world cup berth under her belt, then at 17, she was awarded a college softball scholarship with James Madison University (JMU) in Virginia, US, and she set out to chase her dreams across the globe.

“I went to America having no expectations and it was a bit of a wake-up call!” she said.

“The intensity was just crazy, which was both good and bad. I love jumping in the deep end and just having to figure out a way to thrive and cope in that sort of situation.

“I went from having one or two training sessions a week, to 3-4 hours a day of softball.”

Moore would return to Australia during her break, making her debut for the three-time National Championship winning side, the NSW Firestars in January 2017 and earning herself, ‘Rookie of the Year,’ but just two months later Moore’s softball dreams came crashing down.

The then 22-year-old suffered DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) in her shoulder. The resulting outcome was that she was not allowed near a softball field nor could she participate in any activity that could cause injury.

“In my senior year of college, I noticed a lot of tightness in my shoulder and my entire arm became swollen and discoloured,” Moore recalled.

“I went to a doctor in Florida who prescribed me with some aspirin and muscle relaxants, but I could tell something more serious was wrong.”

Moore was right to trust her intuition, as within days she was in surgery, having her rib removed and a wire inserted into the vein in her arm. Doctors put the cause of the blood clot down to a combination of scar tissue in her shoulder and spending extended hours travelling.

Moore faced the harsh reality that her dreams of playing elite softball, were essentially dashed.

“After surgery I had to stay on blood thinners for months, which meant I couldn’t be anywhere near the softball pitch because if I got hit by something, fell over or cut myself, my blood wouldn’t clot,” she explained.

Once she was able to start training, Moore had no strength in her shoulder which quickly dwindled away any motivation she had for making a comeback and she returned to Australia.

“I gave up on my dreams of playing softball, especially at an elite level. I said to myself, ‘Ok, maybe I’ll just coach or find myself a ‘grown-up’ career’.”

It wasn’t until she was offered the chance to study her Masters abroad, that things began to look up.

“I was accepted to study my Masters in Malta, so when I had the blood clot and couldn’t play, I said to myself, ‘This is a sign, I’ll go to Malta, study and hide from the world while working on myself as a person and recovering outside of softball’.”

Not being able to stay too far away from the game, Moore began coaching a local softball team in Malta and was later joined by her friend, Tara, who would be the catalyst for Moore’s comeback.

“My friend Tara moved to Malta to help coach a softball team I was coaching. She was a UCLA alumni and she saw something in me.

“I remember her saying to me, ‘You’re going to do it, you’re going to play this year, you’re going to make the Australian Team and you’re going to go to the Olympics,’ and my first response was, ‘No way, you’re delusional!’”

“Tara persisted and got me back into the gym and encouraged me to play in Holland, which I did and that’s when things really kicked into gear,” she shared.

“I decided I was really going to go for it and started training every day to give myself the best shot of making the Australian Team.”

Her fateful move to Holland was less than 12 months ago and the resilient 24-year-old made her Aussie Spirit National Team debut at the Asian Pacific Cup in January of this year, scoring the winning run against New Zealand, 2-1.

Now, Moore has her sights set on the biggest stage of them all – Tokyo 2020. There, softball will make its return to the Olympics after 11 years with the Aussie Spirit vying for a spot at the Olympic Qualifiers in China in September 2019.

“Being able to represent Australia at Tokyo 2020 would be surreal. It’s something I’ve always dreamt of. I try not to hype up too much, but I would definitely cry a little bit, especially at the announcement of teams if I were to make it,” Moore said.

“It’s going to be so exciting to watch those games and I hope we make it… We will make it!”

Source: https://www.olympics.com.au/news/tahli-moore-the-curveball-that-changed-my-life/

Do you know any other locals competing at Tokyo 2021? Drop us a line and we’ll add them to the list and give them a well-deserved shout out! Email info@thelivingcollective.com.au