It could have been any night at the chic party hub The Establishment on Sydney’s George Street. Cocktail dresses sauntered around to the upbeat tempo of some familiar lounge music, and the clacking of sky high heels contrasted sharply to the perfectly manicured glamazons wearing them. But there was a distinct difference in the mannerisms beheld by the stylish set this evening compared to any other. The ladies present this evening walked, or should I say strutted, with an aura of confidence, the type gained from years of dedication to their craft, that has led them to hold an undeniable level of internal self-belief that exuded from every part of their being. This was the Women’s Health Magazine I Support Women In Sport Awards evening, a gathering and celebration of the finest female athletes in the Australia.
It didn’t matter where you looked in the room, all you could see was gold. Olympic, Commonwealth, World Championship, X-Games. Global icons such as Sally Pearson, Lydia Lassila and Jessica Fox mingled with the likes of Michelle Bridges and surfing’s own superstar Sally Fitzgibbons. From the lofty Diamonds netball team (made loftier by Bianca Chatfield’s stylish hair!) to the more diminutive Anna Segal, Australian Women’s Health clearly knew how to put on an event!
A highlight of the evening was the guest speech by Summer and Winter Paralympian Jessica Gallagher. Learning of the heartbreak of being unable to compete in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics due to the uncanny circumstance of being ‘not blind enough’, not a single person in the room was left uninspired by her resilience and apparent lack of fear in pursuing her Olympic aspirations to compete in the Vancouver 2010, London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Paralympic games. In Vancouver she returned as the first Australian female to win a Winter Paralympic medal. Even with the continuing deterioration of her eyesight, Jessica has firmly cemented her position as a sporting icon and role model to all.
As the I Support Women in Sport ceremony progressed, it was no surprise to hear the name Sally Pearson read out as the winner of the top prize, Sportswoman of the Year. I personally can recall standing (I was simply too excited to sit!) in front of the TV during the London 2012 Olympics during the early morning hours to watch Sally race and win her beloved hurdles event. There is no athlete more inspiring, dedicated and enduring than Sally Pearson, and as she gave her winners speech, all present gave this deserving champion their complete and unwavering attention, the silence only broken by a rapturous applause at its conclusion.
The evening finished with more opportunity to mingle and enjoy the company of all present, with thanks to Australian Women’s Health Magazine for providing the platform for this wonderful celebration of female athletic talent, and their ongoing support of women in sport.
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Words by Fran Miller.