Seven-time Equestrian Olympian Andrew Hoy answers all your questions
While taking over the
How did you get into Equestrian sports?
I grew up just south of a little town called Culcain on the border of NSW and Victoria. As a child, I borrowed a pony from my uncle and started riding around the farm which led to me starting pony club, campdrafting (working cattle on horseback) and then I had a short career in rodeo riding.
I started riding in Equestrian events, then was selected at the age of 19 to go to the 1978 World Championships in the USA.
What is your favourite Olympic memory?
I have been fortunate to have had much success and to have gone to many Olympics, but I would have to say Sydney 2000.
I was part of the team who won gold in eventing and then went on to win individual silver.
Sydney was very, very special and those memories are still very current in my mind. It brought the best out of Australia and the best out of the Australian people.
The volunteers were absolutely fantastic as well as the venues.
Which discipline do you get the most nervous before?
There's the dressage, the cross country and then the showjumping and all nervousness comes from worrying you're not quite prepared.
The discipline that could possibly go wrong, and if it goes wrong, could end up with a major injury or fall would be the cross country.
When we're galloping cross country, we're traveling at around 11 and a half meters per second, so it's actually very fast, but once I actually start, I am so focused on what I'm doing, that I don't have time to think about anything other than what is happening.
How important is nutrition for your horses?
The same as I'm an athlete and nutrition is important for me, it is important for the horses.
I work very closely with my feed supplier and they have a very good nutritionist there, but I also work very closely with the with the vets to build a program for the horse.
How do you create a strong bond with your horse?
It's not a spiritual relationship but I do have a very good understanding of what the horse is capable of doing. I also work with a vet who has a very good understanding of the biomechanics and the wellbeing of the horses.
It is something that is very, very important if you want to have any success and when I say success, I mean any understanding of the way a horse or any animal can behave, you have to understand the personalities and work within the abilities of that animal.
What is your best advice for up and coming riders?
No matter what you do in life, if you want to be good, make sure you surround yourself with good people, taking their advice and actually implementing it.
People are very willing to share information if they've been very successful in their life, so if you ask someone for help, they are generally happy to oblige.
It's also about structures, setting up programs and being healthy.
Who inspires you?
There's been a combination of so many people over the years who have inspired me. Trainers that I've worked with but I would say my biggest supporters and my biggest inspirations have been my parents.
My father just passed away last October, and he gave me much advice even though he was not involved in Equestrian sports.
He had an interest in motor racing when he was young, then farming but grew up as an engineer but gave me a lot of very good advice.
What motivates you to keep competing after so many years?
I've always had an open mind and am always looking at how can I be better.
I focus on myself as an athlete, I go over my performances and identify the things that need to be worked on.
It's also having my support team around me. The people around me need to have ownership as well and feel as if they're part of the success and part of the journey. That's really important and that's what keeps me inspired, trying to keep them inspired.
I'm never thinking, 'Well, I'm now at this age, I should start thinking of retiring,' I'm always looking towards the next thing.
For instance, I'm just about to take possession of a brand new truck and trailer and people have said to me, 'Andrew, you should be starting to slow down,' but I'm not interested in doing that. I'm interested in being out there, I always like to be at the pointy end of whatever I'm doing.
You can hear the rest of Andrew's Q&A in our Instagram video below
Olympians encourage Aussies to achieve new goal by Olympic Day
As athletes all over the world are reassessing their Olympic goals, Olympians are encouraging Australians to set their own personal goal to achieve by Olympic Day, 23 June.
From juggling to learning an instrument or trying a new sport, Australian Olympians are pushing themselves outside their comfort zone – and supporting all Australians to join them in achieving their own #OlympicDayGoals.
Olympic Day is an international celebration developed to promote healthy and active lifestyles, with Olympians around the world celebrating the theme of “Move, Learn, Discover”.
For 2020, Olympic Day has taken on new significance for Australian athletes, who are adapting to a delayed Olympic dream and separation from teammates and normal training environments.
I accept the @AUSOlympicTeam #OlympicDayGoals Challenge! The goal I will hopefully achieve by Olympic Day is a press handstand without jumping. This is my starting point today....lots of room for practice and improvement over the next 23 days! The values of Olympism are very important to me. Friendship, respect, equality, courage, excellence, inspiration. Now more than ever, I hope we can celebrate and spread these values far and wide. I challenge @jamesconnor95 @rowiewebster @millytapper & @jessfox94 to set their own #OlympicDayGoals, and together we can celebrate our achievements on 23 June.
AOC CEO Matt Carroll said Olympic Day is an opportunity to celebrate what Australians love about the Olympics.
“Sport has such a positive effect for health and social connection,” Mr Carroll said. “Together we are coming through these difficult times, and Olympic Day this year highlights the need for the Olympic values of excellence, friendship, respect and solidarity, more than ever.
“Australians come together every two years to support the Australian Summer and Winter Olympic Teams and Olympic Day is a chance to appreciate what unites us.
“This year, rather than entering final preparations a month out from the Tokyo Olympics, athletes are adapting to working out at home, connecting to teammates by video and coming to terms with a delay to what is a lifelong dream.
“Our Olympians and athletes aspiring to make their Olympic debut have shown incredible resilience, ingenuity and optimism as they reset their goals – and this June we’re encouraging Australians to join in and set themselves a new goal to achieve by Olympic Day.”
Goal-setting cards, social assets, an Olympic Day activity planner of ideas and challenges and additional school resources are available here, to inspire creative goals and challenge Australians in the leadup to Olympic Day.
For Rio 2016 Olympian and Tokyo 2020 selected kayaker Alyce Wood, #OlympicDayGoals offers an opportunity to push herself outside her comfort zone.
“Despite not having a musical bone in my body, I’m challenging myself to learn to play the ukulele and belt out a full song with vocals by Olympic Day,” Wood said.
⚡️I accept the @ausolympicteam #OlympicDayGoals Challenge ⚡️ My goal is to play (and potentially sing) a full song on the Ukulele. Given I don’t have a musical bone in my body, this will be a tough one! Your goal can be absolutely anything you like, so get creative! Pledge your goal today, and then on Olympic Day on June 23 we can celebrate our progress together! I nominate anyone who loves a challenge!
“My dad and brother play the guitar and I’ve always wanted an excuse to join in the family jam sessions – this is a great time to try something new and enjoy testing myself outside of my boat.
“I don’t like to do things in halves and always go full speed. As athletes we’re always impatient, we want things done yesterday, but with a new goal I need to have some patience.
“I think you can grow the most if you push yourself outside of your comfort zone – I feel like I’m an expert on my boat, but I know nothing about a ukulele. To give that a crack, I have to let down the barriers and let people in to give their insight.
“For anyone out there setting your own Olympic Day goal - pick something you’ll find enjoyment in and surround yourself with that enjoyment, both the successes and the failures. I’ll be on Facetime with my family, [husband] Jordan having a good laugh, reaching little goals and finding the joy in it.
With Alyce and Jordan Wood both selected for Tokyo 2020, setting goals and adapting to fluctuating circumstances has been a key part of adapting to the delayed Games.
“If you set a goal you can then create a clear path to get there, otherwise you’re just wandering. If you have that end goal set, you can change directions, go backwards, see what works, and come back to your goal without ever getting lost,” Alyce said.
“At the end of the day, my overall goal for Tokyo hasn’t changed, only the timeline has. I’m flipping it to a positive to see it as a really good reset.”
If her goal to belt out a full song on the ukulele by 23 June doesn’t quite go to plan, Wood knows she can always rely on some help from a teammate to get her through.
“Josie Bulmer (canoeist and fellow Tokyo 2020 selected athlete) has a great voice – even if I can’t nail singing while playing, I can call on Josie to help me reach my goal and do vocals while I play. I’m sure anyone listening will appreciate that too!”
Find out more about #OlympicDayGoals at
Laura Coles navigates career crossroads to realise Olympic goal
As a young girl growing up on her family’s property in Busselton, 222 kilometres south of Perth,
The roadway to success is often littered with potholes and pitfalls, but also with life-defining opportunities which can carve out a new, exciting direction.
When she was aged 15, her grandfather, Ray Worthington, gave her dad, Glenn, a bunch of guns to safely store in his gun safe. Among those was an SKB trap shotgun. Glen decided to attend the local range for a shoot and, soon after, Laura joined him.
“I was awful at it. I was really, really bad,” she recalled. “I had a go at DTL (Down The Line) and I hit three of 25 targets. I think it was the worst I’ve ever seen someone come and start off. But I really liked it. Everyone at the club was very welcoming,” she said.
Regardless of the result, young Laura was hooked and, soon after, she was introduced to skeet shooting. Saddles and stirrups were soon replaced by cartridges and clays.
“I always struggled with DTL. I don’t think I read a target that’s going directly away from me all that well. I much prefer reading a target that’s crossing directly in front of me rather than going away from me,” she explained.
Despite the change of sport, Coles’ Olympic dreams continued to burn away. She had seen her uncle’s cousin, Fabrice Lapierre, climbed through the ranks as one of the world’s best long jumpers to win a bronze medal at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games before winning selection for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. A gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games followed.
But being based in Western Australia, a state with limited shooting pedigree, was difficult for Coles. The main competitions and expert coaches were, and continue to be, located on the eastern seaboard requiring regular long and expensive travel costs.
Physically, Coles also appears to be at a disadvantage. Standing a mere 1.57m and weighing less than 50kgs, Coles’ tiny physique would be more familiar in silks in the mounting yards of Ascot, Flemington or Royal Randwick racecourses rather than on the shotgun range lugging a four-kilogram shotgun and firing off an energy-sapping 75 targets at a time under a blazing sun.
But by 2011, Coles had climbed through the ranks and entered the international competition scene when selected to represent Australia at the 2011 Oceania Championships in Sydney where she won the silver medal. Further World Cup meets followed in Sydney and Maribor in Slovenia plus the World Championship in Belgrade, Serbia.
In 2014, Coles won Australian team selection for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and captured the gold medal.
“I had a great run into Glasgow. I had a great year in terms of domestic performance, and everything fell into line going on that pathway to Glasgow and obviously I had a great day on the day as well,” she said.
Although she eventually climbed to the top of the dais, self-doubt quickly filled her mind after missing the target with her first shot.
“I thought ‘oh God, here we go’ and I thought I was going to have a terrible day. I decided, you know what, that’s okay. It’s a wonderful thing just to have made a Commonwealth Games and I’m just going to enjoy this and go with it. And from there on in, it was actually a great experience because I just enjoyed it and obviously the results spoke for itself,” she said.
Two years later, Coles was the favourite to win the sole Australian Olympic team skeet quota position for the 2016 Rio Games but was overlooked for Victoria’s Aislin Jones. Shooting Australia had adopted a “sole discretion” selection policy at that time and a shattered Coles unsuccessfully appealed her non-selection.
With her Olympic dreams in tatters, Coles’ career was at the crossroads. Should she continue to shoot, or unload the shells and walk away?
She didn’t want to live with any regrets, so she dusted herself off and won selection for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games but didn’t qualify for the final.
“I never wanted my disappointments or my lows to define my career,” she said. “If I was to stop shooting, I would want to stop it for the right reasons. I didn’t want to look back and think what if I kept going, could I have done this. That’s why I kept going.”
“It took me quite a few years to get over that (Rio) disappointment. I don’t think I was quite over it by the time of the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. I think that really showed in my performance,” she added.
For the Tokyo Olympics, Shooting Australia’s selection policy changed where the athlete who topped the four-event nomination series would be automatically nominated to the Australian Olympic Committee for selection.
So this stuff turned up today. Better late than never. Making an Olympic team is a dream come true. I told my mum when I was 5 years old that I wanted to go to the Olympics. I actually thought that this would be in equestrian but when my grandfather gave a shotgun to my dad that all changed. I started shooting American Skeet and had success at state and national levels and then I decided to give ISSF Skeet a go. Lots of people told me that I shouldn’t do it. I would ruin my American Skeet and besides it was too hard to be successful when you live in Western Australia and I was too small. There was so many reasons why I couldn’t or shouldn’t do it. I’m so glad I didn’t let my failures define me and so thankful for everyone who has helped me get this far in my journey especially Nick who has been my rock and I couldn’t have done this without him ❤️. Thanks to my Perazzi family (Mauro Perazzi, Filippo Petriella) for sticking with me through good times and bad. Great things happen to those who don’t give up. #ausolympicteam #tokyotogether #happicoat #olympicdream #tokyo2020 #tokyo2020ne #perazzi #perazzihightech
“When I first saw that criteria, in some ways I was incredibly relieved and in others I felt a lot of pressure. There was really nothing to hide behind. You either had to be the highest scorer or you weren’t going,” she said.
“I was incredibly nervous throughout the series. I remember having problems sleeping, I remember having bad dreams about missing targets, I think I nearly threw myself out of bed trying to hit targets in my sleep, so I definitely felt the pressure. The pressure was on the whole way through right up until the very last shot of qualifying.”
Apart from the change of Olympic selection criteria, there were two other defining moments.
Her training partner, Nick Melanko, took on a coaching role and is now her fiancé and they are to be married in November.
“He’s my coach. He’s my rock. He has been really a pillar of strength for me and I think he’s made such a big difference with my performance. He’s the massage therapist, he’s the psychologist, he’s the shoulder to cry on – everything wrapped up in the one person,” she said.
The other key step was the manufacturing of her custom-made Perazzi gun to suit her size.
“For the majority of people, an off the shelf gun might suit them fairly well because they’re made for the average person. But I am not the average person and the average gun doesn’t suit me.
“It’s light enough for me to handle, it recoils very little. Without that piece of equipment, I don’t think I could perform as well as I have,” she said.
The enforced COVID-19 break from shooting has seen Coles itching to return to the range. Apart from shooting being her sport, her Hot Shots Shooting business in Whiteman Park in Perth is also her occupation.
“It’s lot of fun being able to introduce people to a sport that I love. I think it taught me a lot about shooting and the way that we learn and our psychology when it comes to executing that type of skill,” she said.
Now, with social restrictions gradually being lifted and her mind at ease following her Tokyo selection, life is slowly returning to normal and a little girl’s Olympic dreams are now just 14 months away from being fully realised.
Written by Greg Campbell for Shooting Australia's 'In Sight' series
Eight Australians on IOC Commissions
Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates AC has welcomed the inclusion of eight Australians on a range of International Olympic Committee (IOC) Commissions.
Mr Coates, who Chairs two Commissions, says Australians will play an important role in the work done by the Commissions as the Olympic movement focuses on bringing the world together through sport.
“I note that the IOC’s commitment to gender equality now sees 47.4% of Commission membership occupied by women, up from 45.4% last year.
“Australia is represented by four women and four men in a total of eight Commissions.
“I further note that IOC President Thomas Bach remains committed to increase the number of women who Chair and are members of Commissions with 11 of the 30 Commissions now chaired by women, a record high.
“This increased representation ensures that the female voice is heard and that sport can play such a significant role in bringing about gender equality.
The Australians appointed to IOC Commissions are:
- John Coates AC: Chair, Legal Affairs Commission, Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games Coordination Commission
- Helen Brownlee AM: Women in Sport Commission
- James Tomkins OAM: Athletes’ Commission, Olympic Programme Commission, Marketing Commission
- Kitty Chiller AM: Athletes’ Entourage Commission
- Catherine Freeman OAM: Sport and Active Society Commission
- Mark Woodforde OAM: Communications Commission
- Moya Dodd: Athletes Entourage Commission
- Ryan Stokes: Olympic Education
Full list of
Olympics Unleashed Goes Online to Inspire Students to Overcome Challenges
The Australian Olympic Committee’s (AOC) Olympics Unleashed program, presented by Optus, has moved into the digital classroom, with more than 70 New South Wales schools signing-up to connect students with Olympians sharing lessons in resilience and goal-setting.
This afternoon dual sport Olympian Alex Croak, who represented Australia at the Olympics in both gymnastics (Sydney 2000) and diving (Beijing 2008), shared her experience with more than 400 students at Pymble Ladies’ College in Sydney.
Olympics Unleashed has seen 120,000 students in over 800 around Australia receive face to face talks from Olympians and athletes aspiring for Tokyo 2020 on how to overcome adversity and adapt to new challenges.
More than 1000 students from 16 schools across New South Wales, from Sydney to Condobolin and Barham have connected with athletes since Unleashed moved online in mid-May, commencing at Newcastle’s Whitebridge High School.
AOC CEO Matt Carroll said Olympians’ message of resilience, teamwork and perseverance is more important than ever.
“The COVID-19 crisis is affecting everyone, from athletes whose Olympic dreams for Tokyo have been postponed until 2021, to students facing the challenge of adapting to learning during the pandemic,” Mr Carroll said.
“Olympians have inspiring stories that go beyond sport - stories of overcoming challenges, adapting to circumstances beyond your control and getting back up after being knocked down.
“The great take-up we’ve seen from schools in just two weeks of Olympics Unleashed going online in New South Wales shows the enthusiasm for this message right now.
“Thanks to the support of Optus and governments in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the ACT we can connect Olympians with students through Olympics Unleashed, making a real difference for these young people at a decisive time,” Mr Carroll said.
More than 34 000 students from 280 schools in New South Wales have already come face to face with athletes through Olympics Unleashed before COVID-19.
Local State Member of Parliament for Ku-ring-gai, Alister Henskens SC MP said, “It was a privilege for the PLC students this afternoon to have the opportunity to hear from an exceptional Australian athlete like Alex, who has represented Australia in two different Olympic Sports.”
“I endorse this program which is financially supported by the NSW Government”.
Just as Olympians have been separated from teammates, training centres and elite competition due to COVID-19, students across Australia are adapting to getting back to school after being apart from their classmates learning from home.
Alex Croak says Olympians enjoy giving back to the community and today’s students had plenty of questions after navigating their way through the pandemic experience.
“It’s great to be able to share with students some things I learned from my Olympic experiences,” said Ms Croak.
“I try to encourage students to accept that not everything will always go to plan – but how you adapt and react to what you might see as a negative experience can actually deliver a positive outcome.
“Building resilience out of a bumpy experience will help you in so many ways throughout your life. The biggest lessons I learned in my Olympic career were out of failures, not the successes.”
Optus Managing Director Marketing and Revenue Matt Williams said transitioning to online visits allowed the Olympics Unleashed messages to continue to inspire students at an important time.
“We are delighted to see Olympics Unleashed go online, as it is imperative these types of role models are visible to Australian school kids,” Mr Williams said.
“There is no doubt we are looking forward to seeing our Australian athletes compete on the world stage at the Tokyo Olympics, but we’re equally as excited to see the Olympics Unleashed inspire the next generation and change the future they see.”
Olympics Unleashed is available online in NSW, with online visits rolling out in coming weeks in Queensland, ACT and South Australia. The program is free for schools thanks to support from presenting partner Optus, state governments and the AOC and available for schools right across each state and territory.
Schools can find out more and