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Community & Business

7 February, 2023

Ambassador calls on youth to dream big

Describing Gilgandra as a town of “big hearts and big hats”, Australia Day Ambassador, Victor Kovalenko OAM thoroughly enjoyed his adventure in the town of windmills and Coo-ees.

By Emily Middleton

Addressing last week’s celebrations, the legendary sailing coach — who trained a total of 10 Olympic medal winners during his illustrious career - expressed his excitement at the potential of all young people, and called on them to dream big, saying anything is possible in Australia.

“Australia is the country of opportunities; and now is the time of opportunities,” Mr Kovalenko said.

“They are free, they have plenty of time. The number one thing to do, is have a dream. Then you will meet in your life a lot of people, who will show you that it’s not only a dream — that it’s a goal.

“When you make a plan, it becomes a goal. The more ambitious your dreams, this is an indication of who you are,” he added.

“If you’re working hard, if you have support of your community and friends, then miracles will happen. You will reach your goal.

“You can be whatever you want. If you want to be an Olympic champion, an admiral of the Navy, top class scientist or artist or even prime minister of Australia. If you are young, anything is possible,” he said.

Mr Kovalenko appreciated his time in Gilgandra, and enjoyed meeting the community who, he said: “was like one big family”.

“It has been a special two days. I have met a lot of people, with a lot of interesting chats. I can feel now, that you have a very good and strong community. All of you are like a big family,” he said. “You all work hard in the fields, in flood, rain, cold, heats, to feed Australia, and when you are celebrating, you are all together celebrating together.”

Calling us all his “friends”, Gilgandra’s parting gift to Mr Kovalenko, was nothing other than a wide brimmed straw hat.

“I am very happy with this hat!” he laughed.

“You are the town of people with big hearts and big hats, I have never seen a bigger hat in my life.

“I will use this hat all around the world, and it will always give me great memories of your hospitality and your big hearts.”

Mr Kovalenko said he was grateful for the support himself and his wife were shown during their time here, and looks forward to visiting again in the near future.

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