A group of Marion swimmers were treated to an inspiring talk from one of the country’s greatest sporting legends, Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, as they prepare to hit the blocks today for the SA long course swimming championships.
Over some breakfast, the athletes got an insight into what it was like to compete in the late 1940’s/ early 1950’s, as well an idea of the resilience and determination it takes to be an iconic Australian, leader and role model.
The sporting legend showcased her drive as she spoke of her dedication and can-do approach to athletics highlighting the need to back yourself.
“It’s about believing in yourself. You can do anything if you believe in yourself,” the former Australian Sporting hero & Governor of South Australia said.
“Can’t isn’t in my vocabulary, and it shouldn’t be in yours.”
The Australian teenager had the world at her feet with the whole country vowing for her to win, so pressure and nerves something she reassured our swimmers are normal, but encouraged to try and let go once it’s show time.
“I had the whole country on my back. Australia had put faith in me,” she said.
“Once it became time to race, I’d tune out. Once the gun went off, my mind was just on my race.”
Becoming the first Australian woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal in athletics and dominating female sprinting, Marjorie fascinated the Marion swimmers with stories on how training conditions were different and how she believes athletes of today have it ‘easier’.
Her diet consisted of mainly potatoes and running on what felt like cement as she trained in fog and darkness with only the light from her coaches car headlights to show her the way. She even recalled her first pair of running shoes being second hand and so big that she needed to stuff them with newspaper.
After her whirlwind five-year running career, with two Olympic gold medals, numerous world records and other achievements under her belt, the legend settled down and moved to Adelaide with fellow International cyclist - Peter Nelson. After tying-the-knot at age 22, Peter and Marjorie settled into life after sport.
Sadly Marjorie’s husband passed away from leukemia in 1977 and that tragedy saw her focus shift. The legend who went from being known for her sporting achievements was soon seen as a driving force in the charity world. Since launching the Peter Nelson Leukemia Research Fellowship Fund, she has raised over six million dollars which has resulted in a full time researcher being appointed in Adelaide.
With a strong focus still on her beloved foundation, from 2001 until 2007 she went down a different path and was appointed the Governor of South Australia. During her appointment she focused on her relationships with disadvantaged youth and breaking barriers for athletes and women alike.
After encouraging our swimmers and enchanting them with her career highlights, she spoke of the importance of participating in events like the one hitting our pools today.
With our swimmers set to take on other elite athletes from local SA clubs, as well as other clubs from interstate and overseas, the event is set to be a big one drawing a large crowd.
With over 2,000 competitors, spectators, officials and volunteers expected to grace our center over the next six days, the annual event not only provides a platform for our swimmers to go their hardest and compete at a state level, but drives a significant economic force for our center and state.
“With an expected 3 million dollar economic impact for our state, it’s great to see such an event held at the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre which has world class facilities,” Michelle Doyle, CEO of Swimming SA, said.
“It’s great for kids to be recognized at a state level, but then also great preparation for Commonwealth Games trials and Australian age trials,” she said.
Here at the SA Government owned and YMCA operated SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre, we’re proud to host an event of such caliber and are excited to watch the competition unfold. You too can be in the grandstand watching the likes of Kyle Chalmers, Andrew Abood and Travis Mahoney.
“I’d like to thank our members for their flexibility whilst events like this are running. It’s an exciting one so come down and get involved,” Michelle said.
All the best to our swimmers and in the words of our famous guest speaker Marjorie, “You don’t have to win, just try and beat your last time and have fun. Believe in yourself”.
You can purchase tickets at event entry or visit https://swimmingsa.oztix.com.au
The event runs from today until Sunday. For more details on the event visit https://sa.swimming.org.au