Raising the bar
You know, it’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.
Take university student Trudy Thompson for example. She is a 19-year-old high jumper with her sights set on the 2012 Olympics. Her best jump to date is 183cm but to qualify for the Olympics, she needs to clear 191cm. Now for some, that’s a big ask – but not for Trudy.
"I know it’s a big jump, but it’s achievable. I look at each centimetre as a stepping-stone. All I need to do is focus my energy and hopefully I’ll make it."
After switching from ballet to athletics, Trudy has spent the last 10 years retraining her body and strengthening her mind.
"I’ve had to work hard because the movements required for high jump are the opposite to ballet. And not only that, I’ve had to do a lot mentally. You need to be really competitive in this sport and that doesn’t come naturally to me."
What does come naturally to Trudy, like many her age, is an appetite for a busy but balanced lifestyle. Trudy is studying to be a PE teacher, works part-time at Woolies, coaches at her local athletics club, and is learning to speak French. In her spare time... she loves to cook, listen to classical music and play the clarinet... phew!
You could be forgiven for thinking Trudy is some sort of Wonder Woman. But she would disagree.
"I just take one day at a time. That way it doesn’t seem too big a load. The secret is to believe in yourself and always keep raising the bar. And besides... I do suck at tennis."
Trudy is just one of many elite athletes studying at the University of Newcastle – balancing their studies with their sporting dreams. The University’s Elite Athlete Friendly Scheme offers support and flexibility to these students, through assistance with assessments, timetables, attendance and exam arrangements.
Portrait of Trudy Thompson by University of Newcastle Bachelor of Fine Art (Photomedia) student Sharon Aldrick.