Women & Sports: Brooke Williams, Athletics
Introducing Brooke, full time teacher, personal trainer and athletics coach.
In 2013 Brooke represented Australia at the World Mountain Championships, 2012 represented Victoria at the 10,000m and 5,000m Nationals. She came 5th at the state titles in a thrilling comeback season after a 5 year hiatus. She has also qualified for the 10km nationals finishing my qualifier in 34.51 over in Perth. She manages her running training around playing for country league netball team too.
She has been mentored by some of the greatest women athletes in the world including Beijing 2008 Olympic Marathoner Kate Smyth, and Sydney 2000 silver medalist Sonia O'Sullivan.
In 2018, Brooke was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. HCM is the leading cause of sudden death in young athletes. After a training session in December last 2028, she collapsed and was rushed in an ambulance and not long after they discovered her condition.
Unfortunately her diagnosis has forced her to retire running and netball, but now uses her time to raise money for the heart foundation and coach and mentor young athletes.
You have a long list of sporting achievements, when do you realise you had a passion for sports?
I had a passion for sports from a young age. I started to realise I had athletic talent at about 11 or 12 years old when I started playing netball and would run the cross country at school. During high school I won the cross country and athletic events in the long jump, 800m and 1500m every year. In year 11 and 12 I decided that when I wanted to be someone who would be a great role model for health and fitness and I decided to become a PE teacher.
As a child, who was the person that inspired you to strive for your sporting dreams?
My mum was probably the most influential person in my athletic life. My mum ran with her friends regularly and she played netball until she was 50. We ran our first marathon together in 2012. She supported me through netball and running. But I always looked up to mum and aspired to always follow her active lifestyle.
In 2018 you were diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, it must have been a major blow - what advice would your offer to young women, who maybe struggling with their own setbacks?
To be honest, now when I think back to all those times when I had injuries or illness- I don’t give myself much sympathy. They were all temporary. My heart condition will never reverse or heal. So my advice to others would be just to keep thinking yes it sucks but it’s temporary and you will make it through. Every Olympian has had an injury or been unwell, so just take it as part of the process.
I used to see a performance psychologist and she really helped me get through my injuries. She once said to me- you don’t just improve as an athlete through times. You in improve as an athlete is so many other ways and they become your “champion characteristics”. So I started to see the break as a chance to improve other areas. During one injury I decided to do a healthy cooking class. That was probably an area of weakness so I took the opportunity to spend time trying to improve that aspect and learn more about fueling my body.
You now raise money for the Heart Foundation - how can our readers help you to do this?
On my blog there is a bit more about my story and there is a link to my facebook page where you can donate $15 for a heartstrong pendant.