Marina Carrier: From Youth Olympic history maker to Tokyo 2020
Today, Marina Carrier has gone from making history as Australia’s first-ever female Modern Pentathlete at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics to graduating to the biggest stage of them all, being selected to represent her country at Tokyo 2020.
“It feels completely unreal. I'm still speechless to be honest,” Carrier said of her Tokyo 2020 selection.
“It's still yet to set in, I think it will gradually over the next few weeks but it’s totally exciting and thrilling.”
Carrier took up the sport of Modern Pentathlon when she spent a year at school in England, after her interest was piqued by her teacher.
“It was a totally throwaway comment that got me involved in Modern Pentathlon,” Carrier said.
“I was 13 and starting at a new school in Britain and was being shown around by this teacher.
“He looked at me and said ‘Oh, you're Australian, aren't you, you do all that running, shooting stuff don’t you?’, she continued.
“I didn’t know what he was talking about, but he described the sport to me and I thought it sounded so cool.”
Growing up playing soccer, tennis, sailing, skiing it came as no surprise that when Modern Pentathlon appeared on Carrier's radar, she was all in.
“13-year-old me thought it was a brilliant idea to pick up five sports that I've never done and I absolutely loved it.
"The variety and the challenge of the sport was what got me hooked,” she explained.
“The elements are so disparate, that it's just a huge task to become skillful in five different sports. The challenge of it is immense.
“I love that you can constantly improve and find something to better yourself in and that in itself, is what keeps you going.”
Although she loved the sport, at first it was just a hobby, that was until fellow Modern Pentathlete and Tokyo 2020 teammate Edward Fernon inspired her to pursue the Olympic dream.
A fateful phone call from her now mentor sent Carrier on a journey from hobbyist, to Youth Olympic athlete and soon to be Tokyo 2020 Olympian.
“Ed and I actually live around the corner from each other, and as it happens in a small suburb, the bush telegraph started working overtime and people started joining the dots,” she explained.
“His mum heard from a friend that there was a girl (me) who had done pentathlon before, so Ed got my mobile number and called me explaining who he was and that he went to the London 2012 Olympic Games and asked if I would like to be his training partner and try to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games.”
After less than a year of elite competition, Carrier achieved what she set out to do, and qualified for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, her first competition representing Australia, where she placed 23rd.
“At the time, I thought, 'Are you crazy?' Going from zero to hero, but somehow everything started coming together and I thought, what have you got to lose by going for it? And the answer was nothing. Then I qualified.”
To this day, Fernon and Carrier remain close and now, she will have her mentor and training partner by her side as they take on Tokyo together.
“Since the Rio 2016 trials, Ed has always been there as my mentor. I look up to him a lot,” she said.
“We catch up for coffee and get on really, really well, so to be going to the Olympics with him by my side is absolutely unbelievable.
“It's really special, really, really special,” she continued.
But it hasn’t always been easy going for Carrier, who is no stranger to injury, having recently taken time off to nurse the threat of a broken leg which could have derailed her Olympic debut.
“My biggest setback has probably been the last six months, I had bone stress in the neck of my femur, which is quite a serious area to have bone stress - if that breaks you're in a lot of trouble,” Carrier explained.
“In trying to come back from that injury there were more than a few potholes and when I felt like I was getting back on my feet, I’d get knocked back down again by another injury.
“Maintaining your motivation and your drive when you're at your lowest point, that's been a real challenge,” she shared.
“My rule for this sport has always been that the day I stop enjoying it, is the day I stop.
“It's hard to remind yourself why you enjoy it when you're feeling low and unmotivated, but you just need to remind yourself that quitting when you're at the low point is the worst option.
“You've got to fight back and keep going until you're at the top, then you can really look back and see how strong you are.”