Q&A with Grace O’Dwyer

Date: 28th January 2016

What is your best memory from 2015 and why?

This is an easy question – obviously winning the 2015 Australia Post Women’s Gift.  I have been going to Stawell every Easter of my life.  I have grown up watching my Dad – Peter compete and 2015 was my fifth year of competing in junior events and second year running in the Women’s Gift.

Having my family, friends and all of my POD Squad team mates there helping me over the weekend, giving me advice and encouragement and ultimately helping me to celebrate my win was a dream come true! I will cherish these memories for the rest of my life.

How did the win change your life?

I was fifteen years old when I won the Women’s Gift. I was given the opportunity to have many media and photo commitments, our first radio interview was at 5.30am the next morning, and there were quite a few of them.

When we got back to Ballarat we had more media opportunities with Win TV, the Ballarat Courier and other local newspapers. Over the next few weeks I was astounded by the amount of messages, phone calls, flowers and letters that I received congratulating me on my win.  It made me realise how much people love their sport and I was so humbled that people were proud of me and my achievement!

I have also been asked to speak at several Sporting Association dinners, Rotary and similar organisation meetings.  I have found that speaking at these dinners and answering questions from the floor has increased my confidence with public speaking – I have really enjoyed these events and the positive vibe and genuine interest I have received. It has made me realise how big winning the Gift truly was, and I now understand what dad was on about for all those years!

Are you coming back to defend your title in 2016?

I am really looking forward to returning to Stawell this year and competing. As far as defending my title, my handicap is back considerably, however I will be going in with an attitude of giving 100% and am aiming at getting through my heat to the semi-finals. I will also be competing in the Women’s 400 metres and several under age races.

How is your preparation/training coming along for 2016?

I had two weeks off after peaking for Stawell, and went straight into my winter training program. On top of my athletics training I also played netball for Bungaree, East Ballarat and Ballarat Grammar, and got the opportunity to play in three grand finals and was fortunate enough to win two premierships. Additionally I played in my schools girls’ football team, where we were lucky enough to play at Etihad in the Herald Sun Shield grand final.

From October onwards I got stuck into full time athletics training, following the POD Squad training program. Recently I have been down the beach and have continued training hard and running on the VAL circuit.

What other events have you competed in within the last year?

I have recently competed at the Victorian Country Championships, the Victorian State All Schools Championships, and weekly on the VAL professional circuit, also running in local shield meets for my club Ballarat Harriers most weekends. I am especially looking forward to running in the Ballarat, Stonnington and Stawell Gifts as well as the State and National Championships.

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