Skip to content

Fostering athlete success throughout sport and beyond

19 May 2024

While an athlete’s goal is often to beat the next opponent or make the Australian team, an Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Manager’s goal is to ensure athletes are successful both in sport and in life.

Sarah Conlon Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Manager Combat Australia
Sarah Conlon is an Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Manager for Combat Australia.

For Combat Australia’s AW&E Manager, Sarah Conlon, that means a focus beyond physical performance to prioritise the mental and emotional wellbeing of athletes in boxing, judo, taekwondo, wrestling and fencing.

A big part of that involves longer-term planning and encouraging personal and professional development to help athletes transition into careers beyond their sporting pursuits.

“It's a unique role, but supporting and advocating for athletes and their journeys is really exciting and I feel very fortunate to be able to do that,” Conlon said.

Starting with an induction, Conlon ensures athletes know what support and resources are available before encouraging them to consider study opportunities that can be done alongside training.

“I don’t like the idea of stopping sport and starting a career. I think that's a recipe for disaster as they're both big changes and humans dislike change. We like routine. We like stability,” Conlon said.

“I talk to athletes about that: ‘If one day you finish sport - sometimes that's chosen, sometimes it’s not - what else are you going to do that is connected to your interests or passions?’ And then we work backwards.”

Combat Australia's boxing team training at the Australian Institute of Sport.

The Australian Institute of Sport’s (AIS) Career Practitioner Referral Network and programs such as the AIS Virtual Internships program are resources that Conlon engages with often to assist athletes in exploring career options.

“The programs allow athletes to be outside of their performance environment and creatively think about their interests, passions, strengths, values, and what direction those could take them outside of sport or even within sport.”

Athletes can also use career practitioners for help with tasks such as writing resumes, updating their LinkedIn, preparing for interviews or deciding what to study.

Helping athletes succeed within their sport and beyond is a commitment underpinned by Australia's High Performance 2032+ Sport Strategy. The ‘Win Well’ strategy emphasises a holistic approach to athlete development, recognising wellbeing as the foundation of sustainable success.

Return to top