Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, along with 2022 Commonwealth Games prospects, are amongst the Australian athletes who are stepping up to support Clean Up Australia Day activities across the country this Sunday 7 March 2021.
Clean Up Australia Day is the largest community-based environmental event in Australia and this year celebrates its 31st anniversary.
From five different sports there will be 10 athletes and coaches who will donate their time to participate in seven Clean Up Australia Day events across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT. They will join in with the thousands of volunteers who every year step up and take positive action for the environment. Additionally, there be five athletes who support Clean Up Australia Day throughout the month and on their social media platforms.
The initiative is supported by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) as part of the AIS Community Events Program, which is now in its second year, that aims to provide opportunities for athletes to engage with and contribute back to the community. The AIS has since partnered with a number of not-for-profit organisations including Volunteering Australia, Cancer Council and RUOK? to assist and support the promotion and awareness of key community dates on the calendar.
Matti Clements, AIS Director People Development and Wellbeing, said it was fantastic to see more and more athletes support their local communities who have supported them along their careers.
“Australian high performance athletes are great role models and we salute those who will be able to take time out of their training to support clean-up events across Australia this week. We have almost doubled the number of participants in the event compared to last year, which is a positive sign that more athletes are taking these opportunities to make positive changes in their local communities,” Clements said.
“Many of our athletes train and compete in outdoor environments and see first-hand how much waste ends up in parks, bushland, waterways and the ocean. Protecting the environment is something many athletes are passionate about and we are pleased to give them an opportunity to take positive action and support their local communities.”
19-year old diving talent Sam Fricker is taking part in the initiative for the second time. This year he will be participating in one of the clean-ups organised at Bicentennial Park, not far from the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre where he is currently training in a bid for selection to the Australian team for the Tokyo Olympics.
“I am really glad I have the opportunity to participate in the event again and help some really awesome volunteers who are doing positive things for the planet,” he said.
“I am very passionate about the environment and a couple of years ago I started a company that develops eco-friendly straws to help minimise the use of plastic. The amount of waste produced during the pandemic has made the problem of single-use plastics even worse and that has a huge impact on the environment.
“I am grateful to the AIS for providing me and other Australian athletes an opportunity to support a cause I feel strongly about and the chance to build relationships in the community with other passionate people,” Fricker said.
Welcoming Australian high performance athletes’ participation to the event, Clean Up Australia Chairman, Pip Kiernan, explained: “Clean Up Australia Day is the nation’s largest community-based environmental event and an opportunity for all Australians to connect, come together and do something meaningful.
“Australian athletes are great role models and we applaud their commitment to support our message and provide practical and direct support of community action. We all need to step up and make a commitment to protecting our environment and living more sustainably every day,” Kiernan said.
Athletes and coaches involved:
Vyninka Arlow – Diving coach
Cam Crombie – Para-athletics
Rhiannon Clarke – Para-athletics
Sara Klein – Athletics
Kristy Harris – Boxing
Taylor McKeown – Swimming
Barrie Lester – Bowls
Amelia Hodgson – Para-alpine
Rebecca Van Asch – Bowls
Rhydian Cowley – Athletics
Gen Gregson – Athletics
David Bryant – Para-triathlon
Sam Fricker – Diving
Declan Stacey – Diving
Mackenzie Little – Athletics