2021 Athlete Ambassadors
The athlete ambassadors selected for Share a Yarn are a mix of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) athletes and non-ATSI athletes and will be involved for a 12 month period, which includes community visits, remaining in contact and supporting communities through online video messaging, community event appearances and sharing their learning back to their sport.
Alex Winwood - Boxing
4-time Australian Boxing Champion, Alex Winwood, has represented his country at multiple world championships and Oceania championships in a range of weight divisions. Having qualified in the 52kg division for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Alex is set to again represent his country on the world stage.
Alex also works hard outside of his sport, working as an apprentice electrician. In his spare time, Alex is a boxer with a passion for sport, outdoor activities and video games and represents his community, the Noongar people of South Western Australia, and his Aboriginal culture, with pride.
Amy Ridge - Water polo
Amy Ridge is a member of the Australian women’s water polo team, the ‘Aussie Stingers’. She is a World Championship bronze medallist and is currently training for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She is passionate about diverse representation in sport and equal sporting opportunities in the broader community.
As well as training and competing, Amy is studying a Bachelor of Arts/ Law at UNSW. This sparked her interest in Indigenous justice and confronting the issues in our criminal justice system, particularly the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody.
As a Share a Yarn Ambassador she hopes to learn from and develop connections with Indigenous cultures across Australia so that she can better understand and engage with these issues in her future career.
Brad Scott - Para-athletics
Brad Scott is a prominent Paralympian, having formerly represented Australia in Athletics and also in Soccer. His greatest achievement as an athlete, was winning silver and bronze medals at the 2012 London Paralympic Games in Athletics.
Brad is passionate about his family and community, currently working in his local community to develop and promote inclusion of people with disability into meaningful community roles. He hopes to take this passion and experience into his role as a Share a Yarn ambassador in 2021.
Caitlin Sargent - Athletics
Caitlin Sargent made her debut on the Australian senior team in 2011 and has been a consistent feature of the Australian team since then. Her appearances include two Summer Universiade’s, World Championships, two Commonwealth Games and World Relay Championships and her proudest by far, is a finals finish at the Rio Olympic Games.
Throughout her sporting career, Caitlin has balanced study and work, completing her Bachelor of Physiotherapy (with first class Honours) in 2013, before commencing work as a physio in private practice.
Through her experiences in track and field and her physio work, Caitlin is passionate about creating a fair and equitable world for all, regardless of gender, race, or ability and is also highly invested in environmental conservation.
Christopher McHugh - Beach volleyball
Chris McHugh is an Australian Beach Volleyballer who has been a part of the national team for the last 14 years with career highlights such as a 2018 Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist, 4-time Asian Beach Volleyball Champion and 6-time Australian Champion.
Apart from being an athlete, Chris is a father to Jack and a husband to Denai, who have been his key supporters. Chris is deeply passionate about children in sport and encouraging them to get out and participate in all sports, particularly Olympic sports such as Beach Volleyball. Chris has been able to experience a great deal through his sport traveling, and meeting people he now considers family.
The trials and tribulations endured through the Olympic journey can't be replicated anywhere else and Chris wants all Aussie kids to have the opportunity to pursue their dreams and passions not just in mainstream Australian sports.
Gabrielle Coffey - Netball
Gabrielle Coffey is a Netballer in Victoria, originally from Alice Springs. Gabrielle will represent Australia in the World Youth Cup Netball squad alongside her commitments as a Netball athlete at the Victorian Institute of Sport. In her life outside of sport, Gabrielle studies Communications and Media at the University of Melbourne. She is very passionate about promoting an active lifestyle to young girls and is a massive supporter for the improvement of mental health support for young Indigenous Australians.
As an Aboriginal woman, she is very excited to be a part of the Share a Yarn initiative and hopes it will help her get a step closer to increasing understanding of Indigenous culture within sport.
Janice Blackman - Softball
Janice Blackman is a proud Gubbi Gubbi and Butchulla Woman and a single mother to a beautiful Son, Jaidyn. When Janice was 19 years old, she made her international Debut with the Aussie Spirit Softball team. She has been a member of the QLD heat softball team for 8 years, all whilst working full-time as a Deadly Choices Program Officer with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.
Janice hopes to pursue a career in teaching later in life and has many passions which all impact her in different ways. Family is a core passion; the sense of love, nurturing and happiness gives Janice the positive vibes she needs to keep moving forward in sport and life.
Being a good role model for her mob is also a key motivator, inspiring younger generations, showing them that life is full of choices.
Jonty O’Callaghan - Para-Alpine Skiing
Regardless of being diagnosed with hemiplegia as young child, Jonty O’Callaghan began skiing. From there, he quickly gained an affinity for racing, taking up Para Alpine skiing as a full-time athlete at age 16.
Since then he has had a roller coaster journey full of highs and lows, from breakthrough performances to epic crashes. Jonty’s career highlight to date is qualifying and competing at the 2018 Winter Paralympics in PyeongChang and he is determined to again represent his country at the 2022 Winter Paralympics in Beijing.
Outside of skiing Jonty has completed a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in history) at the University of Melbourne and will soon be undertaking further study in Business. Jonty is very passionate about all things sport and has a keen interest in world affairs.
Kyah Simon - Soccer
Born and raised in Western Sydney, Kyah Simon is a proud Aboriginal woman from both the Anaiwan and Biripi nations who worked her way up the ranks to earn her first senior cap at the age of 16, for the Westfield Matildas. Kyah has since represented Australia 92 times at International Tournaments including the 2011 and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cups, where she became the first Indigenous player to score at a FIFA World Cup.
In 2016 she also fulfilled a lifelong dream of representing Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Domestically, Kyah is one of the stars of the Westfield W-League with multiple League Championships and Internationally, has taken her playing career to the US and more recently Europe.
Kyah is motivated to stay at the top of her game in preparation for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Kyah has completed a Diploma in Business Management and has always had passions within the business sector. Although being a full-time Professional Footballer, Kyah has always had passion's off-field, such as founding her Kyah Simon Football Clinics.
Kyah enjoys mentoring the next generation and strongly believes in using the influential position she is in to help develop and encourage the younger generations to dream big and believe in themselves.
Mariah Williams - Hockey
Mariah Williams is a member of the Australian Women’s Hockey team (Hockeyroos) and has been for 7 years now. She debuted for the Hockeyroos at 17 years old and despite multiple knee injuries, was selected for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. After the Olympics she also attended the Hockey Junior World Cup in Chile where she captained the team to a bronze medal. Mariah is working hard towards selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games to follow her appearance in Rio.
Mariah is very passionate about her sport and has a hunger and competitiveness inside that always wants to be out on the pitch competing against world-class athletes.
Mariah is excited and motivated to share a yarn with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, outside of her own family.
Michelle Wilson - Karate
Michelle Wilson has been an Australian Karate Team member for over 20 years, having captained the country on numerous occasions. Michelle is an 11-time Australian Champion, 3-time Oceania Champion and 4-time WKF Senior World Championships representative, including being the first Australian mum to compete at WKF K1 event, only 6 months after having twins, and placing 2nd!
Michelle is passionate about all forms of sport and creating a vibrant and cohesive community. She is currently employed as General Manager of Adelaide University Sport and her professional background is in physical activity and public health.
She is passionate about inspiring people to be the best version of themselves, particularly young women.
Renee Rockliff - Hockey
Renee Rockliff is a Hockey athlete out of the Western Australian Institute of Sport, with Hockey being a large part of her life. Renee has played a number of National tournaments and represented Australian in the Australian Junior side at both an under 21 and 23 level and playing for the Perth Thundersticks in Hockey One National league.
Alongside hockey, Renee has always had a passion for helping others, especially the vulnerable and marginalised populations, as such she is currently working as a physiotherapist with a future endeavour to peruse medicine.
Renee hopes to use this role as a Share a Yarn ambassador as a stepping stone to greater her knowledge and understanding and to better engage within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community both as an athlete, and a health practitioner.
Rhydian Cowley - Athletics
Rhydian Cowley lives, trains, and works on Wurundjeri, Woiwurrung & Boonwurrung land. He has represented Australia at the 2016 Olympic Games, 2018 Commonwealth Games, and three World Athletics Championships in the 20km racewalk, and has qualified for Tokyo in both the 20k and 50k walk. Rhydian has completed a Bachelor of Arts (History) and Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) and currently works in office administration.
In his spare time, Rhydian loves to make and share jam made from neighbourhood fruit trees, contribute to his local community garden, and read books. He is excited to learn more about Indigenous Australia through his involvement in the Share a Yarn Initiative and to share those stories and lessons with his community and his sport to help make them more inclusive places.
Sarah Gigante - Cycling
Sarah Gigante is a 20-year-old cyclist, racing for the professional American-based road team ‘Team Tibco Silicon Valley Bank’ and also studying linguistics and geography at the University of Melbourne. Sarah’s top achievements in the sport so far have been winning the Australian Elite Women's National Road Race Championships in 2019 and the Elite Women's National Time Trial Championships in 2020 and 2021.
Off the bike, Sarah really enjoys learning languages, spending time with cats and dogs, going to the beach and most importantly, spending some time at home.
Amanda Reid - Cycling - Para
Amanda Reid is a proud aboriginal woman, five-time World Champion In Cycling and two time Paralympian in two different sports. Winning a silver medal at the 2016 Paralympics and now having qualified for a third Games in Tokyo. Amanda is passionate about supporting and promoting people with disabilities, particularly those in Aboriginal communities, letting them know that they are capable and can achieve great things. Having been an athlete for many years, she is will supported by her mum as well as her older sister who is visually impaired.
Beki Smith - Race Walking
Beki Smith is a race walker and has competed for Australia at numerous international competitions. Most notable are the Olympic Games, World Championships, Commonwealth Games and World Race Walking Team Championships. Beki is a proud Yuin woman, her great grandmother coming from Wallaga Lake on the NSW South Coast and herself having grown up on Dharug land in Western Sydney. Beki is a mum to a beautiful son and is well remembered for the moment where her now husband proposed to her immediately after her race at the London Olympics.
Brooke Peris - Hockey
Brooke Peris is a member of the Hockeyroos and is one of five children who grew up in Darwin NT with her large mob. Brooke loves her family, because there is never a dull moment between footy, holidays and endless laughter. Brooke is a current Australian Hockey player, having been a hockey player for many years, she is a committed and driven athlete who attended the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and will be vying for selection to the Tokyo 2020 Games. Brooke works, studies a Bachelor of Education at ECU and enjoys spending time with her rescue dog, Wally.
Christopher McHugh - Beach Volleyball
Chris McHugh is an Australian Beach Volleyballer who has been a part of the national team for the last 13 years with career highlights such as a 2018 Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist, 4-time Asian Beach Volleyball Champion and 6-time Australian Champion. Apart from being an athlete, Chris is a father to Jack and a husband to Denai, who has been an amazing support over his career particularly through injuries post the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Chris is deeply passionate about children in sport and encouraging them to get out and participate in all sports, particularly Olympic sports such as beach volleyball. Chris has been able to experience a great deal through his sport traveling, and meeting people he now considers family. The trials and tribulations endured through the Olympic journey can't be replicated anywhere else and Chris wants all Aussie kids to have the opportunity to pursue their dreams and passions not just in mainstream Australian sports.
Emma Fessey - Rowing
Emma Fessey is an Australian rower currently based out of the Women’s National Training Centre in Penrith. Emma grew up on a sheep and cattle station in far North Western NSW. Due to the remote area Emma’s schooling was done via Distance Education at home. Emma spent her time on the property learning about the land and how it is operated from both her family and the many Indigenous people who lived and worked around her, sharing their extensive knowledge and passion for the land. Emma developed a strong affinity and connection with the land and place she lived, and it holds great importance to her, her family and the Muruwari people. Emma studied a Bachelor of Food and Agribusiness at Sydney University to pursue her interests within the Agricultural industry. Whilst studying this degree she has balanced Rowing for Australia and competing internationally, chasing selection for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Jada Whyman - Soccer
Jada Whyman is twenty years old and a proud Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman. Jada is originally from Wagga Wagga, now currently living in Sydney where she plays football for the Western Sydney Wanderers in the Westfield W-League as a goalkeeper. Jada has now been a member of the Western Sydney Wanderers for 5 seasons and has represented Australia in the Junior Matildas. When Jada is not playing football, she is working at Headspace, a youth mental health organisation, as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) outreach worker. This role requires Jada to go out into the community and connect with young ATSI people and support them with their mental health. Jada is extremely passionate about her work and honoured to hold her position at Headspace.
Jemima Montag - Race Walking
Jemima is an Athletics athlete, specialising in the 20km race walk. Jemima has been walking since the age of 8 and is a part of a Melbourne-based training squad. Sport gives Jemima a sense of purpose, a strong support network and experience in embracing challenges. She loves the opportunity to make friends and compete in interesting parts of the world, whilst wearing the green and gold. This year, Jemima is completing a Bachelor of Science at Melbourne University with a plan to start her medical post-graduate studies in 2021. She hopes to specialise in public health and is passionate about reducing the burden of non-communicable disease in disadvantaged communities. Jemima loves cooking, piano, indoor plants, farmers markets and spending time with friends.
Katie Kelly - Triathlon - Para
Katie Kelly OAM is an Australian Paralympic Gold Medallist and had the honour of winning Australia’s first medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympics in Paratriathlon in the vision impaired class. She has also won two World Championships and was the first female para-triathlete to win Triathlon Australia's female athlete of the year award. Living with a degenerative condition known as Usher Syndrome, Katie provides insightful experiences of the challenges of disability through her 15 years working in corporate marketing roles in the sporting industry, as well as being an elite athlete Katie has always been a strong advocate of sport for the benefits it provides in developing our sense of self and belonging, as well as sport's capacity to help us achieve a cohesive, healthier and happier community. Katie has held pro bono roles with the Australian Blind Cricket team and Australian Deaflympic Team, and is on the Board of Deaf Sports Australia. She is also an Ambassador for the Royal Deaf Blind Institute for Children and Usher Kids Australia. Her proudest work was establishing Sport Access Foundation in 2017, a registered listed charity. Sport Access Foundation aims to improve access for Australian children with a disability to play sport. SAF also provided grants for indigenous children in its second year in 2018.
Laura Hodges - Basketball (former)
Basketball has been part of Laura Hodges life for 26 years. It's given her the opportunity to travel and live around the world, yet there's no country she loves exploring more than Australia. Laura has competed at 4 Olympic Games, 3 World Championships and 1 Commonwealth Games over a 16-year period. Her highlights are winning Gold at the 2006 World Championships and achieving Silver at the 2008 Olympics. In 2018 Laura and her husband welcomed a daughter Ava and love watching her grow. Laura returned to the WNBL this past season which was as challenging as it was rewarding. Basketball will always be a part of Laura’s life and she enjoys giving back to younger aspiring athletes.
Michelle Wilson - Karate
Michelle has been an Australian Karate Team member for over 20 years. She has captained the country on numerous occasions and is currently ranked 28th in the world. Michelle is an 11-time Australian Champion, 3-time Oceania Champion and 4-time WKF Senior World Championships representative, including being the first Australian mum to compete at WKF K1 event, only 6 months after having my twins, and placing 2nd! Michelle is passionate about all forms of sport and creating a vibrant and cohesive community. She is currently employed as General Manager of Adelaide University Sport and her professional background is in physical activity and public health. She is passionate about inspiring people to be the best version of themselves, particularly young women.
Mitch Bullen - Cycling (former)
Mitch Bullen is a former Athlete involved in Cycling Australia's High-Performance Program for several years, representing Australia on multiple occasions. Mitch is from a small country town called Armidale and is very passionate about grassroots programs and sports development. Through his time as an athlete, Mitch experienced many unique opportunities, travelling the world and making great mates through sport. Mitch is now focused on developing his professional career away from sport but loves following the progress of sport and sharing his experiences with the next generation of athletes.
Rowena Meredith - Rowing
Rowena Meredith has represented and medalled for Australia internationally multiple times However, it is not the medals that motivate her, but the people and relationships she gains along the way. Outside of rowing, Rowena is studying to become a paramedic where she hopes to be able to use it within a sporting environment to provide medical help. Additionally, she is interested in understanding different cultures within the community to be able to provide the best medical care possible. Rowena is based out of the Rowing National Training Centre in Penrith, competing for the Australian team.
Rebecca Hancock - Sailing
Rebecca Hancock started sailing when she was 11 years old after watching her older brother Stephen sail every Sunday. One year later she found herself sailing with him in the NSW youth sailing team, in which they continued to compete together for two years. Now, Rebecca finds herself representing Australia internationally and looking to build on her success. If Rebecca is not on the water training, she will generally be in the gym or studying. She is currently studying exercise physiology at UNSW and working part time as a sailing coach at her own grass roots sailing club. She has always been very committed to sailing, becoming 2019 Nacra 15 Youth World Champion at only 17 years old whilst completing her HSC.
Athletes involved in the program will:
Outcomes for athletes
Program will run from March 2021 to November 2021 and will operate around the Olympics and Paralympics for those athletes attending.