Others, like Lani Pallister, are still at school. If you haven’t heard of Lani, you will soon, as the talented young swimmer recently took home the coveted ‘One to Watch’ award, sponsored by Toyota, at the 2019 Women’s Health Women in Sport awards. She might still be in high school, but Lani has already achieved some pretty amazing things in her time, garnering significant media attention from her successes and she’s tipped by many as swimming’s next big thing.
Making impossible possible
At any age it takes commitment, grit and sacrifice to get to an elite level, but to achieve it by the tender age of 17 might seem like an impossible feat. But not for Lani. As she tells it, when she was younger she was obsessed with Japan. Her mum, Janine, who’s also her coach and a former Olympic swimmer, told Lani the only way she was going to Japan was if she made the Olympic team for Tokyo in 2020. Impossible? Not for Lani. “Impossible is just something that someone hasn’t done yet,” says Lani. “I think anything’s possible if you put enough determination and motivation towards that goal.” Now she has Tokyo in her sights and is looking like a strong contender for selection.
Making the impossible possible is a sentiment echoed by Women in Sport Awards mobility partner Toyota. Toyota has been a partner of WinS for four years running and is committed to supporting initiatives that empower and mentor women in sport. Their support is making a genuine difference to women’s sport in Australia, inspiring progress through initiatives such as the Toyota Women’s Health mentoring program.
Driven to succeed
When you’re driven like Lani, you’re always striving to progress, go further and improve. Lani juggles her school commitments and training daily, often sacrificing time with friends and sleep-ins to hit the pool and smash out her training. Already a three-time Junior Pan Pacific Championships gold medallist from last year, Lani’s been making her mark throughout 2019. She’s won multiple medals at both national and international events, logged a new personal best and set a new Australian Age record in the Women’s 1500m Freestyle at the 2019 Aussie World Swimming Trials. In August, the Sunshine Coast local was named ‘Female Swimmer of the Meet’ at the FINA World Junior Championships in Budapest, after claiming three individual gold medals and a silver in Australia’s 4x200m Freestyle relay team.
Lani literally swept the pool at the 2019 Hancock Prospecting Australian Age Championships in Adelaide, taking a clean gold sweep in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle races and followed up at the World Junior Championships, claiming gold in a new Championships Record-setting effort of 15:58.86. She also won the women’s 400m and 800m free titles in Budapest.
On receiving her One to Watch Award, supported by Toyota, Lani reflected on her achievement, saying “I feel so incredibly lucky to travel the world for a sport that I love… and I’m absolutely lost for words to be thought of as an inspirational athlete.”
Watch this space for more of Lani. We get the impression we’ll be seeing a lot more of her on the road to Tokyo and beyond.