In March this year, Olivia was in a mountain biking accident in Thredbo that left her hospitalised with a broken back. 7 months down the track, she is not only back on the water but will also be the first Australian, male or female, to skipper in the SuperFoiler Series in January next year.
For Olivia, the accident was a blessing in disguise, reigniting her passion for the sport and her love of competition.
“It definitely gave me the drive to go out and achieve and be competitive again…I think I was just kind of sailing for the point of it. Going through the motions and didn’t really have any clear goals.”
With renewed vigour, she followed her rehab program meticulously, setting realistic short-term goals and keeping a positive attitude.
“Everything happens for a reason and I’m glad that I came out of it wanting to go sailing and do all those fun things that I used to do for me. I love being under pressure and trying to perform at your best every day. Whether it is in sailing or whatever it is, I’m going to give it a red hot go and see what I can do.”
While she was lucky to recover in such a short space of time, things weren’t always smooth sailing. From training every day in the gym to nothing, she suddenly found herself with an abundance of spare time to consider whether sailing was something she still wanted to pursue.
“Obviously you go through a massive rollercoaster of emotions…wondering if I’m going to sail again, what’s next for me…The uncertainty was the hardest part.”
She continued to spend her weekends at the boatshed, watching on from the coach boat and organising for others to sail in her place. She says that maintaining this connection with the sailing community and having the support of her family helped her get through the mental battles.
“I could have just focused purely on the rehab/physio stuff but I think for me I needed to still be in contact with the water and sailing.”
Now back to where she wants to be, Olivia is looking forward to competing in the fast pace SuperFoiler series. Televised on Channel 7, the series is sailing like you’ve never seen.
“Everything happens much faster. It’s exciting. There’s water spraying everywhere…big people trying to pull stuff…the hydrofoils act as aeroplane wings, so they lift the boat out of the water, so there’s a lot of potential for crashes.”
In a male-dominated sport, Olivia is determined to prove that the girls can give just as much as the boys.
“All we’re really trying to do at the moment is create good opportunities for women in sailing…In the past, the equal opportunity hasn’t been there. You know, just give us a chance and we’ll show you what we can do.”