21 July, 2021
Rubbing shoulders with the greats
Gilgandra-born Emma Hay will make history when she travels to Tokyo as a strength and conditioning coach for the Australian Olympic team.
For the first time, Australian athletes will have their own gym at the Olympic village, and Ms Hay is part of a new team of three who will work with the squad as part of the performance services team. After preparing athletes for the Olympic Games in the past, this will be the first time Ms Hay attends the Olympics.
“I’m pretty excited, it’s a pretty big role, and some coaches particularly don’t necessarily get to go to big events like Games or world championships, generally because the sport has someone who leaves nationally, and they get to go and pick up your athletes,” said Ms Hay.
“You don’t usually get the opportunity to see them right through to the actual competition. So, it is quite nice to have the opportunity, because not many people do which is very flattering.”
Ms Hay has three athletes that are attending the Olympics this year. Divers Melissa Wu, who will be attending her fourth Olympics, Esther Qin attending her second, and Sam Fricker who is making his Olympic debut.
Despite major changes to this year’s Olympics due to COVID-19 restrictions, Ms Hay is looking forward to being part of the event.
"I’m most excited about being able to support the athletes as much as possible. I mean it’s what I do day to day, being able to help them out in any way I can towards success,” said Ms Hay.
“It’s the small wins like that that make me quite happy.”
Athletes and coaches alike are unsure on exactly how the process will work under the current COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s exciting to be the first one to have a go at figuring it all out. It’s going to be a big one, it will definitely go down in history for sure,” said Ms Hay.
So far, all that is known is that there will be daily testing, complete isolation, and complete social isolation while in Tokyo. Ms Hay has braced herself for challenges that will pop up daily, and is ready to adapt and be as prepared as possible. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will open on July 23 and run until August 8.