Elise May Goodwin – Australian Deaf Games

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It’s been an intense year of athletic and swimming competitions for Elise. Twelve months of hard work, many kilometres of travelling and numerous medals and trophies have helped prepare this amazing 12 year old for her next big challenge: The Australian Deaf Games in January.

Hi Elise. Please introduce yourself to the readers …

Elise: Hey, my name is Elise May Goodwin. I’m 12 years old and I’ve been going to Tacking Point Public School since Year 4. Prior to this, I went to St Peter’s Primary School. My family is my dad Steve, mum Korrina and little sister Chloe. I am lucky enough to have my own dog, Lulu.

When did you first start competing in sports?

Elise: While at St Peter’s Primary School, Mr Daniel Evans mentioned that when I turned 10 I could compete in some sports as an Athlete with a Disability (AWD). At first my family were against it, thinking that I was just hearing impaired, not actually disabled, and today we still hear comments like: “Look at her; she’s not disabled”. But in fact, every day I have some sort of communication or language barrier or hurdle to cross. I love competing and have gained so much confidence and skill from it. But by the time I got into Year 4 and transferred to Tacking Point Public School (so I could utilise the local Hearing Itinerant Unit), my mum mentioned competing to Mr Mike Connelly, who advised that the district cross country was on in Kempsey the next day. So 2009, Year 4, was the beginning of my AWD competition. Note from mum, Korrina: The confidence and experience have been extraordinary for Elise. To see her now coping with running off and organising herself for events and asking officials questions is a far cry from the first tantrum and not wanting to get out of the car after a 5 hour overnight trip to Murwillumbah.

The compassion she has for other kids, pushing Julie around in her wheelchair, initially holding her good friend Hana’s hand (who is visually impaired), to cross the track when no one is coming and then have Hana let Elise know when she hasn’t heard it is her turn … not sure if this the deaf leading the blind, or vice versa. It was wonderful to hear her say in Bendigo last year, “It’s not about the medals I’m winning. When I’m with my AWD friends we can just be us; we understand each other. It’s not such hard work to communicate, and we can laugh with each other – not at each other”.

What events do you like to compete in?

Elise: I like all sports, but my favourites are soccer, basketball, athletics, cross country and swimming. I also like dancing and tennis. Athletics has been my major sport; I guess because I get to do 6 events: 800 m, 200 m, 100 m, long jump, discus and shotput. Last year I also went to Zone for hurdles and javelin.

What events have you competed in so far this year – and what were your results?

Elise: Wow, where do I start! I actually attended and swam at my first swimming carnival and tried my hand at the AWD swimming competing in Freestyle, Backstroke and my favourite, Breaststroke. Cheryl from the town pool took me on board and gave me some coaching, which helped me to proceed through the levels from Port to Kempsey, then Banora Point, where I got the AWD Mel Currie Perpetual Trophy – North Coast champion of the meet and went to State in Sydney. I placed 2nd in Breaststroke and 6th in Backstroke and Freestyle. That was between February to April. In May the School Cross Country (CC) approached. I didn’t do so well at school, but went to Kempsey in the AWD and once again struggled, but got through to Nana Glen. I wasn’t too happy with my times. At Nana Glen, I always do ok; I like the track and cool air to run, but I still found it a struggle. At Nana Glen I took out the North Coast AWD (CC) Champion for the 3rd year in a row, which was exciting and proceeded onto State at Eastern Creek in Sydney.

By this point I had discovered I had low blood pressure and iron levels, and Jason Carroll, my naturopath, gave me a plan. I don’t particularly like running at the Raceway, and in freezing, wet conditions, somehow came 1st, but collapsed over the line and ended in the ambulance section. In August I went to the National titles, which I love, as I get to catch up with my amazing friend Jamie Howell, who has a cochlear implant, and Sarah Ashleigh (also hearing impaired).  We ran at Mt Stromlo; I placed 3rd, but really struggled once again. It was a privilege to also run in the NSW Relay team, where we placed 2nd again this year to QLD. Nationals run over a 4 day period. In 2009 I ran in Nowra (1st), 2010, Brisbane (2nd) and next year Adelaide. In July I travelled to Sydney for NSW PSSA trials for Nationals. I placed 1st in 800m, 200m, 100m, long jump; 2nd in discus and shotput. These trials were held as Nationals were in Darwin this year early in September, instead of the usual end of November. The school athletics carnival was held in June, followed by District in July then Lower North Coast in August, all held in Wauchope.

From here, I proceeded to North Coast in Coffs Harbour, where I was very excited to take out the North Coast AWD Athlete of the Meet for the 3rd consecutive year. Nationals were exciting in September, as they were in Darwin – wow, what an awesome experience! Last year in Bendigo I got 4 gold medals; this year I got 3 golds and 2 silvers and received a mention at the closing ceremony again on my great achievements of getting 80%+ of the deaf world record in several events.  The highlight in Darwin was the privilege of once again competing in the NSW Relay Team and coming 1st with my wonderful friends Krystal, Hana and Jenna. Then in October I went to Homebush again for the State event and came home after competing in 6 events and placing three 1sts, two 2nds and a 4th.  With so much rain this year and my health not firing, I struggled to train and be prepared, so I’m pretty proud of my achievements.

What is the big sporting event you’ll be competing in at Geelong in January?

Elise: Wow, this will be my biggest event yet – the Australian Deaf Games. I will be competing in athletics and swimming. I’m extremely nervous, as in the athletics it is an open age, but in swimming I will be competing in the Under 13s. It will be awesome to be competing with all deaf and hearing impaired people, as we will be all competing on the same level (except some will have the added advantage of age); but for me, it is about the experience. Unlike school sports, with the different multi classifications, your time is calculated out against the world record for your disability; so quite often it’s a waiting game, and even though you may come 1st by a country mile, you have to wait for the calculations and may not receive a place. It was a hard lesson at first to understand, but now my aim is to do a personal best (pb).

If you could be anything you wanted to be when you finish school, what would you like to be?

Elise: Of course I want to be like Cathy Freeman, a famous runner and teacher/mentor to other kids and set up my own Foundation to help other kids – especially those who are a little different – to achieve their dreams, overcome hurdles along the way and believe in themselves.

Thanks Korrina and Elise.

Interview by Jo Atkins.

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