Olympian Natalie Cook inspires next generation on International Women’s Day

9 | 3 | 2017

Olympians around the world have been getting active for International Women’s Day to inspire change and drive forward the discussion around inclusion and gender-balance in sport in order to empower the next generation of female athletes and leaders.

Olympic champion Natalie Cook is one such Olympian who has used the occasion to speak out about the challenges and opportunities faced by women in sport. The Australian beach volleyball star and WOA Executive Committee member delivered an inspiring speech for International Women’s Day in her native Australia, encouraging women and girls to pursue leadership roles throughout their community, schools and workplaces.

The five-time Olympian, who won gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, hosted a breakfast event in Brisbane where female students and community volunteers came together to hear her talk about triumphing in adversity and becoming a leader through sport.

The breakfast, entitled “Be Involved. Lead the way”, saw Cook encourage women to aim high in their personal and professional lives, and be encouraged to take up leadership roles. Cook, who also won a bronze medal at Atlanta 1996, was the first Australian woman to compete at five Olympic Games and runs a beach volleyball venue on top of her responsibilities as an IOC representative on the WOA board.

“The Olympic Games were an experience that changed my life forever,” said five-time Olympian and WOA Executive Committee member Natalie Cook. “It empowered me to take on new challenges, to push myself as far as I could, and to support my fellow athletes and opponents. I want to pass this feeling of empowerment on to the future leaders of the world, and it was amazing to see so many ambitious young women at the breakfast.

“International Women’s Day is an initiative that has helped to create some really positive results, and is driving positive change,” Cook added. “As an Olympian, I feel it is my duty to share the Olympic message of equality and empowerment and this is the perfect day to do it on.”

WOA is committed to helping former athletes spread inspiring messages of Olympism throughout the communities of the world. International Women’s Day, which became an official UN-observed day in 1977, saw events that aim to promote women’s rights and inspire young females to reach new heights take place across the globe under the theme #BeBoldForChange. At the Rio 2016 Olympians Reunion Centre last year, WOA hosted a high-level, women in sport event to pay tribute to the impact the Olympic Movement has had on empowering and advancing women and to honour some of the world’s most accomplished women in sport.

Image credit: IOC