One of the Kookaburras most decorated alumni, Mark Knowles, knows how to inspire those around him. Sharing his story of resilience and connecting with students through Olympics Unleashed, presented by Optus, Knowles travelled to the Mt Isa region, encouraging kids to find their own passion and chase it down.
From Dajarra to Boulia, Camooweal and Cloncurry, Knowles shared his Olympic journey with more than 330 students from five towns, six schools and just over 1500 km in three days.
Coming from a regional town himself, Knowles was able to relate to these students on a personal level.
“This was an amazing experience for me,” Knowles said of being able to share his story.
Growing up in a regional town, Rockhampton, I was able to link my journey of being regional, traveling long distances to train and compete and also not always having the best facilities or easiest run at wanting to get to the Olympics.
“This, I think, allowed the kids to resonate and understand that it can be very difficult but you can still achieve if you put your mind to it and work really hard,” he continued.
“I loved having the ability to go into remote communities and small regional towns and share my story around unleashing potential, resilience, teamwork and making healthy lifestyle choices.”
After hearing from Knowles, the students couldn’t wait to crack out their own hockey sticks and take the field with an Olympic champion.
“The kids were unreal, giving hockey a go, it was great to see,” Knowles said. And it wasn’t just the students taking positives from the Unleashed experience.
“I know that I am lucky and can look back on an amazing career as an elite athlete,” he shared.
“Speaking to students like these gives me another unique perspective on the opportunities that I’ve been given.
“It’s humbling when I say that I’ve been on over 400 flights across countries and continents, and they look back at me in awe – wondering how that could even be possible.
“I share these stories and even if it creates a light-bulb moment for just one student, which sets them on a path where they genuinely believe anything is possible, I’ll know I’ve done my job right.”
The visit to the region had sentimental meaning for Knowles, with generations of his relatives calling Cloncurry home.
His Olympics Unleashed presentation at Cloncurry State School and St Joseph’s Catholic School was given to not only students and staff, but to Aunties and Great Aunties, cousins and community members who had followed Knowles’ career since he debuted for Australia.
Drawing cheers from the crowd, he announced that his Grandmother attended Cloncurry State School in the 30s, while his Dad attended the same school in the 60s, strengthening the bond and connection Knowles shared with his audience.
With dozens of athletes presenting Olympics Unleashed across Queensland to students from Cape Town to Coolangatta, make sure your school doesn’t miss out.
Olympics Unleashed is free for schools, and takes Olympians and athletes aspiring for Tokyo 2020 into schools to unlock students’ passion and help inspire goal setting, overcoming challenges and developing resilience.
You can find more information and register your school at www.olympicsunleashed.com.au.
Olympics Unleashed is only possible through the great support of State Governments and presenting partner Optus.