17-year-old Coady, a double World Junior Champion in Big Air and Slopestyle in 2017, was cruelly struck down by a training accident at PyeongChang on the eve of her Olympic competition but now sees the past eight months as a ‘blessing in disguise’.
Fresh from the excitement of the Gala evening at the Crown Palladium in Melbourne on Thursday, October 11, Coady is more energised than ever and looking forward to working with her mentor and Olympic gold medallist, Nick Green OAM from the Oarsome Foursome.
“Nick is such a legend. I got to meet him a couple of weeks ago. He’s a really cool guy, and he introduced me to some Australian icons at the Gala,” Coady recounted.
“I met Layne Beachley and Wendy Botha, which was sick because they are so cool and super women in surfing. And Shane Gould – that was so great because we’ve been watching Survivor because of Lydia (Lassila).”
“They were all super friendly, down to earth people. Of course, I knew about them, but they wanted to know about me. I had such a great time chatting to them. They were interested to hear from me and really reinforced how beneficial this scholarship is.”
It has been a tough eight months for the Junior World Champion as she struggled to come to terms with a lost Olympic opportunity, yet, as she says, the benefits of this year will stand her in good stead.
“To be honest, it took me a bot of time to see the benefits,” she said of her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in February at PyeongChang.
“It’s been a blessing in disguise. I’ve stepped back and reviewed the past after being forced to take time off and to appreciate everything. Especially as this is my Year 12. What if I’d have been riding at the same time?”
“I have been empowered to go to the gym and that’s been really good.”
With VCE exams beginning at the end of October, Coady is already looking ahead to the northern hemisphere winter – bar the maths exam on her 18th birthday on November 2.
“From mid-November I will be amping up my intensity in the gym and really trying to do everything I possible can to be strong and confident.”
“It looks like I will back on snow in mid to late January.”
Between final exams and gym, Coady plans to make the most of her scholarship and the mentoring with Nick Green. Mostly, it’s about wisdom – and that’s an uncommon trait for a teenager.
“I think I’m going to get a lot of wisdom from Nick. He has been to a lot of games, including winters. I really just think from his perspective and his knowledge that he’s going to be able to provide me with some rich technique – the little one percent things that make the difference, the mindset of competition and how he can pass that onto me.”
SAHOF brings together Australian sporting legends, inducts new members and annually awards ‘the Don’ to an athlete who has surpassed all in their field. This year, that award went to wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley AO, who delivered a memorable acceptance speech. (here)
The scholarship program is designed to help young Australians reach the highest levels of their sport, by providing encouragement and funding over a 14-month period.
The five athletes chosen for 2019 include Olympic snowboarder Tess Coady, Paralympic distance runner Jaryd Clifford, rising rower Giorgia Patten, promising diver Cassiel Rousseau and motor racing prodigy Cameron Shields.
Coady will receive one-on-one personal mentoring from Olympic Rowing gold medallist Nick Green OAM who is a member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, plus a $5,000 sporting expenses grant.
She only began competing internationally in 2017, winning the double Junior World titles in big air and slopestyle and was the youngest member to qualify for the for the Australian 2018 Winer Olympic Team. She was also recognised as the NSW Institute of Sport Young Athlete of the Year.
“It is a great privilege to be able to pass on some of my knowledge to Tess,” Green said. “Having teenage daughters of my own, I know that I will be able to listen to Tess and support and guide her growth as an athlete.”
Ski and Snowboard Australia CEO Michael Kennedy also praised the Melbourne teenager.
"Despite suffering a bitter setback when she injured herself in training at the Olympics in Korea, the manner in which she handled that disappointment and has committed herself to her recovery and to her sport shows exactly the kind of character required to be a champion,” he said.
“We are excited for Tess’s future and particularly the opportunity for her to be mentored by an Australian sporting champion as part of the SAHOF mentor program.
Since the introduction of the Program in 2006, 76 scholarships across 34 sports have been awarded, with 20 past and present scholarship recipients recently represented Australia at the 2018 Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games where past recipients captured six golds, seven silvers and one bronze medal.
Established in 1985, 2018 marked the 34th edition of Australian sport’s night of nights to perpetuate Australia’s rich sporting heritage, whilst promoting the values of courage, sportsmanship, integrity, mateship, persistence, and excellence, all underpinned by generosity, modesty, pride and ambition.
You can follow Tess Coady on Instagram tess_coady or on twitter @Tess_Coady
By Belinda Noonan