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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Smarrelli

My Olympic Memory: Ashleigh Brennan

Excited, nervous and proud are a few of the words that come to the mind of dual Olympian Ashleigh Brennan when asked about how she felt competing at the Olympic Games representing Australia.

At the time Ashleigh said she felt a lot of pressure and the support she received from those around her was crucial to helping her perform well.

“I put internal pressure on myself to compete at my absolute best but there is also so much going on around you it’s difficult to not get swept up in the emotions.

I relied heavily on support from my personal coach, teammates and mentors to ensure my focus stayed on what I was capable of controlling. Your emotions play a huge role on your performance so having strategies in place to help me be at my best was crucial,” Ashleigh said.

It’s difficult for Ashleigh to pick one Olympic memory that stood out, however, finishing sixth in the team event at the 2008 Olympic Games is up there as one of her favourites. Ashleigh and her teammates currently hold the record for the highest ranked Australian gymnastics team at an Olympic Games.

Reflecting on the 2012 Olympics Ashleigh treasures walking out into London’s O2 Arena in front of 62,000 people in the stands and finishing the all-around competition with one of her best beam routines and then seeing her family afterwards having spent a few months apart.

A few other moments Ashleigh remembers include watching the other Australian athletes compete, watching Australia go up against the USA in basketball, seeing Usain Bolt in the 100m sprint, riding on the shoulders of other athletes during the closing ceremony and being able to see the Spice Girls perform.

Reflecting on her time in gymnastics Ashleigh says the biggest lesson she’s learnt is persistence.

“Anything that is important to you will take time, test your resilience and challenge your patience but if it’s meaningful, it will definitely be worth the hard work.

I learnt it’s important to have a well-balanced life, there is no way I could have achieved what I did without a focus on my school work, a supportive family, balanced diet and a good network of people around me,” she said.

Ashleigh’s advice for others is to set their goals high and make the most of every opportunity.

“Always set your goals high. The Olympics are such an incredible event to be part of, once an Olympian always an Olympian, and I think that’s pretty special.

Whether it’s aspiring to be an Olympian, play AFLW, netball, achieve your best result at school, to work in the performing arts or something else, remember if you don’t quite reach your goal, the skills learned and experiences gained along the way are valuable and sought after. They can always be used post sport and throughout any other chosen career,” Ashleigh said.

In her life after sport, Ashleigh says she’s most inspired by helping people to become the best possible version of themselves.

Watch Ashleigh’s advice for aspiring Olympians below:

Originally published for Gymnastics Victoria

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