Tell us a bit about you and where you grew up.
I am the youngest of four; my oldest brother is 10 years older than me and there is a six-year difference between me and my little brother. I always wanted to be like my sister, who was amazing at netball and a very hard worker. I still admire her dedication and never-give-up attitude.
I grew up on a farm in Meyerton, South Africa. We were a very outdoorsy kind of family, we were always out on our bikes and had to ride for about 4-6km to the next farm if we wanted to play with anyone. I have memories of playing backyard cricket, three-a-side rugby, and dodgeball.
Tell us something people might not know about you.
I never saw the inside of a gym until we immigrated to NZ – I was 28 years old.
How did you first get involved in sport?
I went to a little farm school, and you had to play to make up the numbers, especially for team sports. Athletics was my first love and I always thought I’d represent my country in hurdles, but it didn’t quite work out the way I anticipated. I watched my mum play korfball for South Africa and my dad was the umpire. We grew up next to the korfball courts and watching my brothers and sister play sport, it was just something you do – no one questioned it, it was a way of life.
Why was sport important to you? How did it shape you personally?
Taking part in athletics taught me to lose with dignity and win with dignity. Sport is a way of life; it can make you feel good or not, but you get over it quite quickly because you have to focus on the next race. I was incredibly competitive growing up – I had three older siblings to fight against, so it taught me to never give up even if the odds were against you. Persistence always pays off.
Were there any special people that had a positive impact on you? Who were they and why?
My family – every single one of them had an impact. My oldest brother was good at everything and anything; he didn’t really need to work hard and was just a naturally talented athlete. Meanwhile my sister had to work incredibly hard for everything she achieved, and my younger brother worked hard but gave up when things didn’t go his way. Mum and dad were my biggest supporters, and it didn’t matter whether I won or lost, they were always there to pick up the pieces and tell me how wonderful I was. I am sure I was the favourite child!
What are the highlights of your sporting career?
- 1988 – 1990: Representing my province in 400m and 100m hurdles at the South African Championships
- 1995: World Netball Championships in Birmingham – South Arica beat the Silver Ferns by 2 goals. South Africa was allowed to compete internationally again after 28 years of isolation due to apartheid.
- 2003: World Netball Championships in Jamaica – the Silver Ferns beating Australia.
- 2003: Sportswoman of the Year (Halberg Awards)
- 2006: Commonwealth Games – Gold
- 2010: Commonwealth Games – Gold
- 2010: Commonwealth Games – New Zealand flag bearer
- 2012: Magic winning the trans-Tasman competition
Are there any important lessons you learned that you’d share with young people?
Enjoy everything you do. Do what makes you happy. Learn new skills and never stop learning – you’ve never reached your full potential, there is always room for improvement.
Why is being a Balance is Better Champion important to you?
To bring the Balance is Better philosophies and principles to life and make people realise that every journey is special, regardless of whether it’s a winning one or not, and that there are a lot of learning opportunities.
To influence people and their understanding of what Balance is Better is, and how important it is to grow our next generation.
If there was a piece of advice you could give to people supporting young people in sport, what would it be?
Support them, listen to them, and guide them to become the happiest version of themselves.
What value do you feel sport gives to young people who are involved in sport, at any level?
Work ethic, empathy, and the ability to both lose and win with dignity.