The Road to Rio with Juliet Haslam

The Rio Olympics loom large for all sports lovers and we are blessed in this month’s edition of the SportsApp Newsletter to hear from a true champion of Hockey. We encourage every reader to grab a cuppa and sit back an enjoy the inspiring, articulate and insightful messages that Juliet has shared.


Where did your dream of going to the Olympics begin?

I will always remember sitting by myself at home on the living room floor, watching the Australian Women’s hockey team (the Hockeyroos) win a gold medal at the Olympic Games for the very first time. Right then and there, I set a goal for myself that one day, that would be me, I was just totally inspired and in awe watching all of my heroes. The dream began! Our school also did a wonderful job in asking inspirational people from all walks of life to speak to our students, we had scientists, explorers, musicians and famous actors. They all had great stories to tell but I was blown away when one day, Olympic gold medallist sprinter, Marjorie Jackson Nelson spoke at our assembly. She told us how she used to train at night by the headlights of her family and friends’ cars because the town couldn’t afford lights for the athletics track. Her stories of hardship, resilience and hard work were such an inspiration to me. I couldn’t believe we had one of our country’s greatest athletes right here at our school, I was so engaged in her talk, it felt like she was talking just to me!

What do you believe school sports directors and coaches could do even better to develop, support and inspire their student athletes?

As just mentioned, asking inspirational athletes from different sports to come and speak to your students can certainly make a difference! I believe that kids growing up should be exposed to different sports from a young age. It is much healthier both physically and mentally for children to have experiences across a whole range of sports and not to be too entrenched in a single sport from a young age, there

I couldn’t believe we had one of our country’s greatest athletes right here at our school, I was so engaged in her talk, it felt like she was talking just to me

– Juliet was inspired by Aussie great, Majorie Jackson Nelson at Adelaide’s Scotch College

is plenty of time to get serious! At school, I played every sport imaginable including basketball, tennis, softball, cross country running, hockey and others. Different skills, experiences and friendships are gained from different sports. One of my greatest sporting memories at school was competing in the school cross country, running through
Brown Hill Creek (here in Adelaide), virtually wading through knee deep water and sliding down mudslides… the ‘fun’ aspect is what also really what drives kids! At about the age of 13/14 , hockey commitments became more serious and time consuming but I really appreciated having that balance of different sports as I grew up.

From your school years to your Olympic adult years what importance did you place on having a great role model?

Good role models are very important. They don’t always have to be superstars but need to be people who have the right attitude, strong values and are resilient. Kids need to know that life and sport will not always be rosy and they need to be able to cope when at times things go wrong! I also think it’s important that children learn from a young age to be humble and sportsmanlike when they experience success. I learnt many of these values from my parents, who were also both sporty but more importantly great ‘life’ role models for me. I had been playing in the senior state hockey team for 3 years when one of my greatest mentors and role models, our state captain (also Australian captain), Sandy Pisani retired. At the next national tournament, the state selectors then selected me, at the age of 21, to be the new captain. I really didn’t feel ready for it and was overwhelmed with uncertainty about the role. Typical of the sort of person that she was, Sandy agreed to come out of retirement and play one more year so that she could guide and mentor me in the leadership role. Her willingness to support and teach me, was something that I will always be thankful for and will never forget. A great role model.

What is your most treasured memory as a player?

I was very fortunate to have been a member of the Hockeyroos for 12 years including a very successful period from 1993 to 2000. During this time we won Olympic gold, World Cups, Commonwealth Games and other major events. Whilst the memories of standing up on the podium receiving Olympic gold medals and singing our national anthem will always be firmly entrenched in my memory, it is often the smaller things that I also remember and really miss now that I have retired. Warm up laps at training, having a joke with your team mates whilst stretching at the end of a session, the experience of being a full time athlete and doing what you love every day! Most treasured to me are the lifelong friendships I have made along the journey.

How will Australia Hockey perform in Rio?

The Kookaburra’s (Australian men’s hockey team) are the best hockey team in the world and have been for a number of years. They will be ranked #1 in Rio but you can’t just show up. They have to make it happen. I think they will. The Hockeyroos have been in a re-building phase for a number of years and in the last 3 years, they have proven that they can compete with the best. The Dutch and Argentina will be favourites to win in Rio but I believe that the Hockeyroos have the talent to be up on that podium. Let’s hope it’s for gold. I will certainly be cheering them on!

Any funny memories of your time at the Olympics?

The Olympic Games is such a huge event. I remember when playing in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, they didn’t have enough washing machines in the whole of Spain to be able to wash and dry all of the 10,000 athletes sheets and towels every day in the Olympic Village. So they used to send all of the laundry in 2 huge cargo planes to London, overnight every night with delivery back in Spain the next morning! Love the Olympics, bring on Rio.

The greatest advice you could give to any student/aspiring athlete?

When I was in full time training with the Australian team in Perth, I used to have 3 quotes pinned up on my wall that inspired me every single day. I think they speak for themselves. ‘Always strive to be the best that you can be’ – this was our Hockeyroos team motto. ‘Natural talent will only get you so far, you have to work hard.’ – this would be my greatest piece of advice to young athletes.‘If you want something, anything, with all your heart, you will find a way.’ – have dreams and be resilient!

Natural talent will only get you so far, you have to work hard – this would be my greatest piece of advice to young athletes

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